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Saturday 23 September 2017

Platform of presidential candidate Marine Le Pen will be 'made in France'

Marine Le Pen is a candidate for the presidential elections in France (AP/Michael Probst)
Marine Le Pen is a candidate for the presidential elections in France (AP/Michael Probst)

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has unveiled her platform at a conference this weekend, envisioning a thriving nation "made in France".

On full display for two days will be the proud nationalism of the National Front party candidate. The timing could not be better for Ms Le Pen, a leader in early polls for the April 23 and May 7 elections.

The British decision to exit the European Union and the election of US President Donald Trump could inspire would-be voters and provide a moral boost for her backers attending the event in the south-east city of Lyon.

"The entire world, it's true for Brexit, it's true for Mr Trump, is becoming conscious of what we've been saying for years," she said in a recent television interview.

Ms Le Pen denounces what she calls the "ultra-liberal economic model", globalisation, open borders and "massive immigration", notably of Muslims.

In her view, immigrants take jobs from the French, raise the terrorism risk and are stealing away the identity of France. No more, she vows.

Measures by Mr Trump, notably his halt on arrivals of refugees and citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries, could be right out of Ms Le Pen's playbook - if France was not a member of Europe's open borders group and with a refugee policy in part dependent on the EU.

Among Ms Le Pen's 144 "commitments" unveiled on Saturday are: No more membership in Nato's integrated command; no more euro currency, European Union or open borders; and no more second chances for foreigners under surveillance as suspected potential terrorists - those thousands would be expelled.

The election pits "good versus evil", National Front official Jean-Lin Lacapelle said at the start of the conference.

"The survival of France is at stake. It's the first time we've been so close to the goal."

Unlike Mr Trump, Ms Le Pen is not a new quantity in French politics - she has headed the National Front since 2011 - but they share a belief in what she calls "economic patriotism" and "intelligent protectionism". Her plan includes reserving public bids for French companies if their offers are reasonable and adding a tax for foreign workers.

This will be Ms Le Pen's second bid at the presidency after coming third in 2012. Early polls consistently show her among the two top candidates, but suggest she will lose by a wide margin in the run-off.

Parisian baker Walter Fraudin, 44, a National Front member, said Mr Trump's victory might motivate the French to undo a system in which political promises never leave the wish list.

"He does what he says," Mr Fraudin said. "If you're on a battlefield you'll follow him ... Marine Le Pen, I would follow her."

Her first move, if elected, will be working to spring France from the European Union, and her first trip will be to Brussels to try to extract her country from the euro currency, border agreements and other critical domains. It's a battle she apparently sees as lost in advance since she has a Plan B: a Brexit-style exit referendum.

"Today, the European Union decides in your place," Ms Le Pen's campaign manager, David Rachline said.

"It is the survival of industry, the survival of jobs that are at play in this (election) battle," Mr Rachline told supporters.

AP

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