Maréchal-Le Pen: the new face of France’s far right

The third generation Le Pen is standing for election in Vaucluse, a constituency in Provence — the southern French region whose landscapes were once rendered in the swirling brushstrokes of Vincent van Gogh.

Marion Marechal-Le Pen, far-right Front National (FN) granddaughter of FN former President Jean-Marie Le Pen, poses as she takes part in the Bedarrides horses fair in southern France, on May 17, 2012. Marion Marechal-Le Pen is candidate in the 3rd electoral district of the French southern department of Vaucluse.

With new French President François Hollande fast becoming the country’s least exciting man, it’s little wonder that an inexperienced young politician is stealing headlines ahead of parliamentary elections this weekend.

Hollande, the socialist who unseated conservative Nicolas Sarkozy last month by promising to roll back austerity measures, has been at such pains to establish himself as “Mr. Normal” that the media are getting bored already. Instead, they’re lavishing attention on Marion Maréchal-Le Pen.

Maréchal-Le Pen, a 22-year-old law student with minimal political experience, is seen as one of the far-right Front National (FN) party’s brightest hopes for Sunday’s first-round elections for the Assemblée Nationale.

Though small in political terms, gaining a seat in parliament would be a significant milestone in the FN’s revival. The party hasn’t held a seat since the 1980s, and was once expected to vanish whenever founder Jean-Marie Le Pen decides to bow out of public life.

But after a surprise strong showing of support for his youngest daughter, Marine Le Pen, who stood as FN’s presidential candidate and attracted 17.9 percent of the vote to finish in third place behind Hollande and Sarkozy, the party is back on the scene.


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