Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right Rassemblement National party, was hosted by the AAPA in a well-attended video-conference on March 30. Le Pen has been in the news since opinion polls started showing her within a whisker of beating President Emmanuel Macron in a putative second round of the presidential election in 2022.

Le Pen maintained her drive to “detoxify” (dédiaboliser) the brand and movement set up by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen and taken over by her a decade ago, maintaining her stand against mass immigration but saying she would opt for a government of national unity if elected.

In what may be seen as a timely warning to European liberals, Le Pen positioned herself firmly alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the UK’s Brexiters — and by implication former US president Donald Trump — as a nationalist pitted against the forces of globalisation. “There’s no more split between left and right, there’s a split between the globalists and the nationalists,” she said, adding that she stood for “regulating globalisation”, “controlling borders” and “protecting citizens by using the tools of the sovereign nation state”, whereas Macron was “unashamedly a champion of the internationalist model”.

She answered questions on the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccinations, the French left, the national debt, and immigration among others. Le Pen also rejected the “extreme right” label. “I am not extreme,” she said. “What’s more, a good part of what I am proposing is already enforced in many countries around the world, including in some cases in the US and Great Britain.”

by Victor Mallet