Will Marine Le Pen Be France’s Next President?

UPDATE: Marine Le Pen has emerged as a frontrunner to be France’s next president since the publication of this article.

France’s presidential elections are even further away than the United States’ 2016 date, but that doesn’t mean prominent French political figures like Marine Le Pen, François Hollande, and Nicolas Sarkozy haven’t already been pitted against each other in polls to predict who will lead France in 2017.

One such recent poll has put Le Pen and her far-right National Front party as the early winner in a primary election that would place Marine against several candidates — among them former president Nicolas, center-right Alain Juppé, and socialist Manuel Valls, each of whom secured 23 percent of French polling agency Ifop’s fake vote, according to Newsweek. Le Pen would, however, lose to all of her major competition in a run-off election if the poll results held true in a real election.

Current Socialist Party president François secured only 21 percent of the vote despite the fact that he, much like George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks, is enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to his handling of the Charlie Hebdo attacks that took place earlier this January. Despite Marine’s strong hold on many conservatives, Hollande’s approval ratings have shot up 21 percentage points since the attacks — landing him at 40 percent, the highest his approval has been since the period immediately after his election, according to the Guardian.

Le Pen’s response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks has also been front and center in French politics. According to the Independent, Marine has been careful not to specifically target Islam as a religion, particularly not the 4.7 million Muslims who live in France. Aymeric Chauprade was dismissed from his position as Le Pen’s foreign adviser after he released a video arguing that nearly one million of the Muslims living in France are potential terrorists. Some close with Marine, including her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, have voiced their support of Chauprade’s comments — creating a familial rift, according to the Independent.

“The complex relationships within the Le Pen family recall the plot of King Lear. A newly powerful daughter is seeking to curb an unruly father who has surrendered responsibility but clings to authority. The comparison has become even closer in recent days… In recent months, Jean-Marie Le Pen has angered his daughter by making a joking reference to the Holocaust. Marine has infuriated her father, and other hardliners, by bringing a gay-rights activist into her wider far-right movement, Le Rassemblement Bleu Marine.”

Despite the early polls, in reality Le Pen has a long time to go before she knows who her real challengers are. Those differences could be key components of where her strongholds lie come 2017, reported Newsweek.

“If [Marine Le Pen] were to face Hollande and Sarkozy in the second round, she would receive 29% of the vote, while if she faces Valls and Sarkozy, she would do slightly better, taking in 30% of the vote, while if she were to face either Socialist candidate and Juppé, she would receive 31% of the vote.”

[Image via Rémi Noyon, Flickr]