Anti-EU candidate attracted 2 million women voters since 2012. Nationalist vows to defend France’s freedom against Islamists.
French women are starting to picture their next president as a divorced mother of three.
The anti-euro, anti-immigrant candidate Marine Le Pen has been playing up her gender as she seeks to convert a likely first-round victory into an overall majority in the run-off on May 7 — and it’s paying off. The 48-year-old National Front leader has already rallied some 2 million additional female voters to her cause since her last run for president in 2012 and she’s betting more will follow.
“Women are the key,” said Nonna Mayer, a researcher at the Sciences Po institute in Paris who has studied the National Front for 25 years. “These women often abstain and now they are backing Le Pen to protect their jobs and their security.”
While women make up just over half of the electorate in France they are far less likely to turn out than men, offering a well of untapped support for the candidate who manages to tune into their concerns. Le Pen’s pitch weaves together concerns about immigration, security, and the economic decline of many white French communities into a potent populist brew that borrows freely from U.S. President Donald Trump, blaming “the elite” for the problems of ordinary voters.