Le Pen makes her comeback by roasting Mélenchon

Marine Le Pen in Paris giving a speech after her defeat against Emmanuel Macron on April 24. [EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON]

After two weeks of silence following her defeat in France’s presidential election on April 24, Marine Le Pen returned to the political scene by attacking the union of the left and the “fairy tales” of Jean-Luc Mélenchon on Wednesday (11 May).

Le Pen came second place in the final round of the presidential election, with 41.5% of 72% turnout, but the incumbent President Emmanuel Macron secured a win with 58.5%.

The former far-right candidate made a very noticeable comeback by saying she represents “the only credible opposition that can influence the choices made by Emmanuel Macron”.

In the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for June, a prime minister and cabinet will have to be appointed leading to alliances of the left and questions over how the balance of power will be distributed.

Mélenchon’s “fairy tales”

This could be seen as an attempt by Le Pen to put the Insoumis — Mélenchons’s party — and the left back into their places, as they occupy the political space with a very active electoral campaign ahead of the legislative elections.

According to her, the issue is not who will govern as of next June but which will be the first political opposition force in the country. “The logic of the institutions is that the President of the Republic must have a majority. All those who say otherwise are telling fairy tales,” she explained on TF1 on Tuesday evening.

Le Pen seems to be attacking the left more than the newly re-elected president, stating that “the far left allied with the left is the opposition that will defend the burkini in swimming pools, that wants to open prisons, to legalise illegal immigrants, to increase taxes by €270 billion, that wants to disarm the police”.

When questioned on Wednesday morning by RTL over the possibility that Mélenchon would be “elected” prime minister as he claims, Le Pen said that he is telling “fairy tales” and that he is only “trying to exist”.

Her fear, should the left obtain a large number of elected representatives on 19 June, is that “Jean-Luc Mélenchon can transform the National Assembly into a ZAD […] with the defenders of the black blocs”, a ZAD (Zone à défendre in French) referring to a militant occupation that is intended to physically blockade a development project.

By denouncing the complicity of the left in the re-election of Macron, she claims to be the “candidate of truth”.

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Against instrumentalized electoral alliances

There is no way for the Rassemblement National (RN) candidate to manoeuvre alliances like her competitors from the right and the left.

According to Le Pen, “French political life is decaying: the LR are selling out to Macron and the left is selling out to the far left”.

Although an agreement with the other far-right forces would have been possible, Le Pen said, “something that bothers me is that I would have contributed to the election of Éric Zemmour’s deputies who would vote alongside Emmanuel Macron for retirement at 65. That would be a betrayal of my voters.”

When Zemmour called for the “union of the right”, she retorted that she preferred to unite the French rather than confine herself to a restricted political family.

Aware that reaching a majority in the National Assembly is impossible for her party, Le Pen intends to have at least 15 deputies elected, a number required to form a parliamentary group, and “to be able to influence the policy for the next five years”.

The interest lies in the rights granted to the elected members of a group, which are superior to those who are “not registered”, i.e. speaking time and seats in committees, allocated by considering the balance between the groups. The latter also enjoy additional prerogatives concerning the parliamentary agenda.

Today, the RN has seven MPs and can hope to have a few dozen elected next June out of 577 seats. Even so, the gap between the political weight at the national level and the number of elected members would remain very large.

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[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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