Le Pen 'unlikely' to beat Macron in French election says expert
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Robert Oulds, director of the Bruges Group think tank, spoke to Express.co.uk about the looming French presidential elections and the battle between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. But the eurosceptic think tank boss warned Ms Le Pen, who used to be strongly anti-Europe, has toned down her rhetoric from the last election in an attempt to appear more appealing to voters. Mr Oulds explained this has allowed Mr Macron to move into the political void left behind by his rival and admitted he strongly “doubts” Ms Le Pen will win in 2022.
Mr Oulds was asked for his assessment of the 2022 French election and what the future of Europe could look like with Ms Le Pen as president.
He said: “[I don’t see] Marine Le Pen to be a eurosceptic or will do anything about [Europe].
“We will see if she would ever get the presidency, which I doubt, because President Macron has stolen her clothes and also her policies.
“Plus, of course, many people will vote for him, even if they don’t like him, surely to stop her.”
Mr Oulds also took issue with Ms Le Pen’s revised political stance as the National Rally leader had once called for the end of the European Union but now seeks to revise it with France still remaining a member.
He said most “patriots” would “die in a ditch” for their country and was not convinced Ms Le Pen was a true eurosceptic as she makes out.
Mr Oulds was angry at this and explained she was similar to political leaders in the UK who would say anything to be elected, rather than stand by their values.
He explained: “Marine Le Pen briefly flirted with the idea of France leaving the Euro.
“Unfortunately, she is indeed a fair-weather friend [when she needed] the establishment she turned her back on those policies.
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“So the history of the National Rally is that it came from the National Front.
“They were actually never a eurosceptic party, there was a period in time when her father Jean-Marie Le Pen actually supported the European Union.
“And this was during the time the communists were actually against the EU.
“They can’t be relied upon to do a Frexit in that there are other political parties in France and other political movements that actually favour France leaving the European Union.”
The decision from Ms Le Pen to tone down her far-right rhetoric in the lead up to 2022 was a conscious decision based on the 2017 result, which saw her badly lose to Emmanuel Macron in the second round of voting.
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Instead, Ms Le Pen has tried to distance herself from her party’s far-right past such as allowing more LGBT candidates to stand and being less anti-EU.
Dr David Lees, associate professor of French Studies at Warwick University and expert on far-right politics, told Express.co.uk he also thinks Ms Le Pen will not win the next election but that she has become “more palatable” among voters.
Dr Lees pointed to the political outsider, Eric Zemmour, and explained his much stronger right-wing stance could work in Ms Le Pen’s favour.
Ultimately, however, the French political expert said the right-wing vote was too split to push Ms Le Pen as a clear winner and backed Mr Macron for a second term.
Mr Macron has tried to win over right-wing voters by speaking out against “woke” ideology which he says is imported from American universities.
The French president has also attacked radical Islam and how it has led to several terror attacks across the country.
Politico’s poll of polls puts Mr Macron at 24 percent with Ms Le Pen at 16 percent and Mr Zemmour at 13 percent.
Conservative Les Republicains candidate Valerie Pecresse is currently on 17 percent after she won her party’s primary.
Some polls suggest the second round of voting will be between her and Mr Macron.
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