Immigration, Marine Le Pen, And The Trump Connection
So far, Pen’s campaign path closely aligns with Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” project.
Immigration, Marine Le Pen, and The Trump Connection
When Donald J. Trump won the US Presidential Elections last year, the leader of the National Front (France's far-right party) Marine Le Pen took it as a sign of hope.
In an interview with CNN, she said, “Donald Trump has made possible what was presented as completely impossible. So it's a sign of hope for those who cannot bear wild globalization. They cannot bear the political life led by the elites."
So far, Pen’s campaign path closely aligns with Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” project. After his official inauguration in January this year, Marine Le Pen was one of the first few foreign politicians to visit Donald Trump.
Her party, the National Front has gained both popularity and confidence in the upcoming French elections to be held on April 23 this year. The aggressive political tone of her campaign circles around a 144-point presidential plan that includes an EU referendum, allowing voters to stay in or out of the EU.
But a deeper and a more grave concern around the EU referendum is that much of its intention stems from Marine Le Pen’s stance on immigration – which remains a primary focus in all her speeches.
The immigration pitch has emerged as a hot-button topic for most elections in nations, with countries deeply divided over the controversial issue. Though traditionally open to asylum seekers, France has sheltered far fewer refugees when compared to Germany, that has taken more than a million refugees since 2015.
Like Trump, Pen has shown a staunch support for stricter border controls to curb immigration. In an interview with CNN, Le Pen applauded President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban that banned seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days. The ban created a nation uproar which was criticized by Le Pen who believed the reactions to the executive order to be in ‘bad faith’.
But Le Pen has often avoided the question of a similar ban in France, though she has asserted, “France no longer has any borders because of the EU”. But a leading member of Le Pen’s campaign team, National Front mayor Steeve Briois has not shied away from expressing his support for such a ban in France. When asked in an interview, he said, “ Why not? We not living in the world of Care Bears anymore. We are in a horrible world. So from time to time, we must take authoritarian measures, even if they shock.”
Marine Le Pen wants that French citizenship ought to be "either inherited or merited". For undocumented immigrants, she contends that they "have no reason to stay in France, these people broke the law the minute they set foot on French soil". Asserting that children of illegal immigrants should not get free education, she reinstates the populist belief that immigration remains central and crucial to French elections.
Owed to Pen’s growing popularity, many French voters may find common grounds in her campaign that resonate with their own beliefs. According to a Pew Research Study in 2016, 46% of French surveyed were concerned that refugee crisis would increase the likelihood of terrorism in the country. In another survey which covered 22 countries including France, showed that as many as 57% of French people believe that there are "too many immigrants" in France with 54% believing that the immigration was "causing their country to change in ways they don't like," a figure which is higher than the global average of 46%.
Marine Le Pen has an advantage amidst an environment of growing anti-migration speeches. According to Reuters, when Le Pen vowed to expel all foreigners for a crime or misdemeanor and promised to not allow migrants without identity papers to legally stay in France or get free healthcare, she received a loud applause and a standing ovation from her supporters.