The Strategist

Marine Le Pen renames her party. Will it change something?

03/13/2018 - 14:32

A congress of one of France's leading political parties, the extreme right-wing National Front (FN), ended. Marine Le Pen collected 1,5 thousand of their fellow party members in Lille to choose a new chairman and a new name that would not sound "military". As a result, Marin Le Pen was reelected as the only candidate, and the party was named "National Union". Despite the announced update, the goals, methods and capabilities of the party remained unchanged.

blandinelc via flickr
blandinelc via flickr
The congress in Lille began with a vote. Marine Le Pen was unanimously elected the head of the party. She has been in this position since 2011, when she assumed the place of the party leader after her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Preparing for the current congress, Mrs. Le Pen did not exclude the possibility of giving up her seat, "if there is a more worthy candidate." But she was the only candidate in the electoral list. Then it was decided that the creator of the party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, already expelled in 2015 from the "National Front", is deprived of the post of honorary president, because this post is now abolished. However, this decision was made with less unanimity - it was supported by 80% of the vote.

Despite the fact that Mrs. Le Pen failed in the last year's presidential race, the probability that she will run again in the elections of 2022 is almost 100%. Remaining an indisputable authority within the party, Marin Le Pen was never able to return support of the French citizens. According to a poll of the French institute of public opinion study Ifop published on the day of the congress, six out of ten respondents believe that she shouldn’t run for the presidency next time.
Applicants greeted the guest of the congress, American conservative Steve Bannon, a former adviser to Donald Trump.

In contrast to past years, when FN congresses did not attract much attention, this performance was broadcast live on news channels. For over an hour, the re-elected party leader exercised in sarcasm, accusing President Emmanuel Macron and his movement "La République En Marche!". "What is En Marche (Forward – ed.)?" - she asked. And she made it clear: going "forward" is for immigrants; enemies raise the flag of nomadism, fighting against the Nation, against the Constant, prompting the French to abandon values and devotions.

Her father already called this renaming "political suicide." But for Marin Le Pen, the new name ("Rassemblement national") means a new kind of a party. In fact, however, it is a direct borrowing of the enemy's methods. The righties have rebranded their the party more than once, and the current President Emmanuelle Macron created his own political movement by uniting the lefties and righties and winning elections. Marin Le Pen wants the union of left and right. "The party should master the culture of alliances, but we will not change," she assures.

Experts agree that so far, the current changes in the party are more words than deed. The structure of the party will remain the same (in 1972 Jean-Marie Le Pen borrowed the structure from Communists from the Politburo and the Central Committee), only the names will change: the National Bureau and the National Council will appear. The composition of the party will remain the same, even though many representatives of the party have repeatedly discredited themselves. So, the night before the congress, one of the leaders of the youth movement "National Front" Davy Rodriguez found himself in the center of a scandal. He called a guard at a bar in Lille "dirty African, monkey" and advised "to get back to Africa."

The new name of the party will be put to a popular vote among its members who will express themselves in writing and by mail; it is assumed that this will take at least two months. But as the French journalists write, the "National Front" can be called a batch of cakes and flowers - and still it will remain a party of stubborn supporters of the views of the Le Pen family.