Who is Marine Le Pen, far-right French presidential candidate who dealt a blow to Macron – Moneycontrol

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Leader of the French far-right National Rally Marine Le Pen, left and lead candidate of the party for the upcoming European election Jordan Bardella during a political meeting Sunday, June 2, 2024 in Paris. (AP)

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s party National Rally has registered a resounding victory in the first round of th country’s snap parliamentary elections, dealing a big blow to French President Emmanuel Macron.

According to pollsters, Le Pen’s far-right party is likely to win about 34% of the votes while Macron’s centrist Renaissance party and its allies would clinch about 22 percent to end in third place.

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A coalition of left-wing parties, called the New Popular Front, won about 29 percent of the vote.

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The two-round election will now be completed with a runoff on July 7 between the leading parties in each constituency.

Though there is no clear indicator of who will win yet, the National Rally is likely to become the largest party in the French National Assembly – the lower house of Parliament.

Who is Marine Le Pen?

Marine Le Pen joined the party in 1986, which was then known as National Front. NF was founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen about 50 years ago. Her father was a member of a French division of the Waffen-SS during World War II.

In 2015, Le Pen removed her own father from the party when he remarked that the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail of history.”

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She then rechristened the party to “National Rally” and appointed eloquent political leader Jordan Bardella has her protege and the president of the party.

Notably, Le Pen, who was known for her extreme views on several issues, softened her stand. This included her earlier calls to exit the European Union.

smooth-talking and hard-to-ruffle Mr. Bardella as her protégé. She also dropped some of her most extreme positions, including a push for leaving the European Union.

Over the years, Le Pen has been a consistent contender in French presidential elections.

She reached the second round in both the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections, where she faced off against Macron.

Despite softening her stance, Le Pen is still known for her hardline outlook on immigration, advocating for strict border controls and a reduction in the number of immigrants allowed into France.

Her party also supports the ban on wearing of head scarf by Muslim women in public.

She also supported France’s exit from NATO’s integrated command.

Le Pen has also faced multiple legal challenges and controversies throughout her career.

She was charged with distributing violent images in 2018 after sharing pictures of ISIS atrocities on social media.

Her party has also been scrutinized for its financial dealings and alleged misuse of EU funds.

(With inputs from agencies)

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