What Could a Victory for Marine Le Pen mean for the European Union?

Lydia Bowers

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Below is a short video highlighting some of the most extreme proposals the National Front and their leader have made since the launch of their official Presidential campaign in February.

 

It is entirely within the realm of possibility that the next President of France will be Marine Le Pen. She is currently sitting at about 23% for the first round and 42% in the run-offs. Though recent opinion polls suggest Le Pen won’t have enough of the votes to send her over the finish line, the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in Britain have showed that these are uncertain times. Le Pen is the leader of one of the oldest far right parties in Europe, the National Front, formed by her father Jean Marie Le Pen.

Le Pen’s main rival is 39-year-old centrist, Emmanuel Macron. His party En Marche! Is less than a year old and the candidate has yet to submit a full manifesto. His lack of political experience, closeness with the highly unpopular Francois Hollande and his privileged background are his main weaknesses but his youth and optimism make him a plucky and worthy adversary. Macron is a former investment banker who represents the exact “savage globalisation” that Le Pen vows to fight against. At a Presidential rally in Lyon in February Le Pen stated, “The divide is no longer between the left and the right, but between the patriots and the globalists.” Part of Le Pen’s nationalist agenda is to tax large corporations higher, such as Ikea, if they hire non-French workers.

Macron and Le Pen are neck and neck in the polls, with political missions that are like chalk and cheese, thus highlighting the deep divisions among French voters, an appropriate echo of the sentiment currently sweeping the bloc.

It would seem that a win for Marine Le Pen and the National Front would plunge the European project into turmoil. Le Pen has promised to call a referendum on European Union membership should the EU not agree to revert to a loose coalition of nations that have neither a border-free area nor a single currency. The leader of the National Front has also pledged to take France out of the Eurozone should the Party win the upcoming plebiscite in May.

Marine Le Pen Gives Speech- Photo Credit Blandine Le Cain
Marine Le Pen Gives Speech- Photo Credit Blandine Le Cain

The party plans to enforce a “French first” policy when it comes to free education, social housing allocation and employment. Non-nationals will also receive higher taxes on their employment contracts under the National Front government. Le Pen also plans to force the state to order from French companies in order to protect French firms from foreign competition. Foreign investment would also be strictly controlled via an “Economic Security Agency.”

It is entirely plausible that Le Pen will move to leave the Schengen border-free zone in order to stay true to the National Front’s commitment to combatting “Islamification” and immigration, the two most polarising issues in contemporary European politics. Currently France takes in approximately 100,000 immigrants annually, the National Front propose to slash that number to 10,000. Below is a clip of the hard-line rhetoric in Marine Le Pen’s first official speech on the campaign trail.

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These measures are part of the National Front’s 144 point plan, a 22 page document released in February at the beginning of the official presidential campaign. As they stand they are only hypothetical as they also rely on the National Front acquiring a majority of seats in the French parliament in June, yet one thing is for certain with a Le Pen victory, the possibility of a deep crisis in the European Union has never been so close.

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Lydia Bowers