As Front National party tensions rise, is Marine Le Pen in trouble?

By Hannah Wright

Last week 1.74m people in France tuned in to watch Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right Front National (FN) on French political television programme L’Emission Politique — only 7.7 percent of viewers, the smallest audience recorded since the program first aired just over a year ago.

During her presidential campaign in February, Le Pen attracted some 3.48m people to her appearance on the show.

Le Pen has laid low since she lost the election in May but her latest TV appearance was meant to be her political comeback. She attempted to clarify her and her party’s views on the European Union and the eurozone.

Le Pen came across as undecided however. She said:

We will see if Mr Macron has success…that the European Central Bank (ECB) is no longer independent… that the ECB’s money supply no longer belongs to banks but to the states. If the euro was positive for France, I would be satisfied with the euro, but I think that it continues to be negative. In many areas, we can improve the daily life of the French without leaving Europe or the euro.

In March Le Pen said 70 percent of her plans for the country were not possible while the county remained part of the EU and its single currency.

However, the conversation evolved following her defeat in May as she committed to transforming the party.

Florian Philippot, Le Pen’s right-hand man before he quit the party, left amid disagreements with Le Pen and warned the party was veering back to its “terrifying” ways of the past.

The FN is divided over whether it should return to its far-right stance or continue with Philippot’s plans to widen the party’s appeal, whilst potentially losing the party’s core principles.

Philippot, a fierce Eurosceptic, helped Le Pen in her attempts to rebuild the party after she took over from her anti-Semitic father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

He introduced a focus on data and statistics and guided the party in a new direction, with economic policies becoming increasingly left wing, reaching out to working class voters.

Philippot shouldered much of the blame following FN’s election defeat in May, with many criticising his insistence that France should abandon the euro, a measure unsupported by most French voters.

However, another member of the FN said:

If we abandon the exit of the EU and the Euro, I don’t see how we can recover sovereignty.

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