France report 'normalizes' Marine Le Pen and 'demonizes' Mélenchon

One of the most striking processes in French politics in the last year has to do with the perception of the leaders of their extremes: Marine Le Pen (National Regroupment) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (La France Insoumise): France increasingly tolerates the the first, whose speech until now was viewed with suspicion, and gives less consent to the second, whose positions are beginning to be considered more dangerous

France report 'normalizes' Marine Le Pen and 'demonizes' Mélenchon

One of the most striking processes in French politics in the last year has to do with the perception of the leaders of their extremes: Marine Le Pen (National Regroupment) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (La France Insoumise): France increasingly tolerates the the first, whose speech until now was viewed with suspicion, and gives less consent to the second, whose positions are beginning to be considered more dangerous.

The roles have been reversed and, for the first time, there are more French people who think that Marine Le Pen is not a danger to democracy than those who think so. According to a survey published by Le Monde and FranceInfo, 45% believe that she does not represent a danger, compared to 41% who think that she still is.

In 2002, when the party was led by his father, Jean Marie Le Pen, the percentage was 70-26. 43% already see it as a party capable of governing. On the contrary, there are 49% of citizens who believe that Mélenchon does pose a risk to democracy. The turn is important, because in the 2022 presidential elections, he was about to overtake Le Pen and go to the second vote (France votes in two rounds).

The far-right party is moving towards this normalization of its discourse and the republican shield (the alliance of the rest of the parties that until now has acted as a firewall to prevent Le Pen's victory in the last presidential elections), is fading. "The porosity among the voters of the Republicans and National Rally party is confirmed and this party is seen as the only one capable of embodying an opposition to Macron, also among left-wing sympathizers," Eddy Vautrin-Dumaine, director, points out in Le Monde. of studies at the Verian Institute, in charge of the survey.

The process of dediabolization of Le Pen and her party began years ago but has recently intensified. The situation has favored him, since he has put on the table the central themes of the training: immigration and insecurity. First were the mobilization against the pension reform, where Le Pen remained relatively on the sidelines. Then, the strong riots in June, which started in the neighborhoods of France after the death of a young man by a police officer.

This fall were the last two attacks, in October and last Saturday, carried out by Islamists and in which two people died.

Le Pen has benefited from the news but also from the reverse process to her own, that of Mélenchon's diabolization. She has kept a low profile on some issues, while the rebellious leader has not stopped making noise, especially on social networks. Her attitude has been cracking the alliance that the left-wing parties formed in the Assembly (the Nupes) and where La Francia Insumisa was the leader.

Every time Mélenchon speaks out he generates furious reactions. A few days ago the president of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, ordered him to silence him on a radio program, in a less elegant way, after his attacks on a journalist, whom he called manipulative and fanatical. "Le Pen benefits from the favorable atmosphere, but also from Mélenchon's attitude" and his "noise and anger" strategy, says Eddy Vautrin-Dumaine.

The climax of this reversal of roles (the normalization of lepenism and the diabolization of melenchonism) has been the reaction after the Hamas attacks on October 7, and the subsequent Israeli reaction. Le Pen and his party have expressed solidarity with the Jewish community and criticized anti-Semitic attacks, while Mélenchon refused to condemn Hamas attacks.

He was the only one who did not participate in the demonstration against anti-Semitism that took place several weeks ago in several French cities. Le Pen and the president of the party, Jordan Bardella, did attend this march, despite criticism from the rest of the parties. We must not forget that Jean Marie Le Pen, father of Marine Le Pen and founder of the National Front (she changed her name, to distance herself), was convicted of anti-Semitism.

That day, even though it was an anti-Semitic march, the party posted a hashtag on social media: "anti-Islamist march." France has the largest Jewish community in Europe but also the largest Muslim community. In her speech against Islam, Le Pen remains firm: after the attack last Saturday in which a tourist was murdered near the Eiffel Tower, she has blamed the Government "for the rise to power of an Islamist ideology for years" in the country.

The French justice system decided this Friday to try far-right leader Marine Le Pen, her National Rally party (RN) and 26 other people in 2024 for allegedly embezzling European public funds between 2004 and 2016, the prosecutor's office said. The magistrates suspect that RN launched in a "concerted and deliberate manner" a "system of embezzlement" of the 21,000 euros ($22,500) per month that each MEP has to pay their parliamentary assistants.