Elections in France 2022: Marine Le Pen appeals to the France of the “people” against “the caste and the oligarchy” | International
Those from below against those from above, the workers against the elites, the nation against globalization… Marine Le Pen brought out the populist manual on Thursday at her first electoral rally of the last leg of the campaign for the French presidential elections. The far-right candidate defined the elections in which she faces the centrist Emmanuel Macron as a duel between the “people”, whose representation is arrogant, and the “caste” and the “oligarchy” that, according to her, embodies the current Republic President.
“We must close the way to this caste that governs us with arrogance, this power of a few for the benefit of a few, this power of compadreo in which co-optation and nepotism reigns,” Le Pen cried out before thousands of people in a pavilion in the Exhibition Park on the outskirts of Avignon in the south of France. “The appointment of April 24 puts the popular bloc face to face against the elite bloc,” he continued. And he added: “In short, the people against the oligarchy.”
Le Pen wants to deny the polls, which all give Macron as the winner in the second round in 10 days. The far-right candidate finds herself in an unusual situation in this campaign. For the first time, all the spotlights are focused on her, and not on her competitor in the ultra field, the talk show host Éric Zemmour, eliminated in the first round. Journalists, commentators, and political rivals break down her program—in France, programs count—and point out its inconsistencies. Poll by poll, the president slightly widens his lead.
“To the abstentionists I say: ‘Come and vote, if the people vote, the people win,'” Le Pen said. “To all, patriots from the right, from the left, or from other places, I say: ‘In this election that unites us to lift the country, our only party is France, our only engine, the French and our only objective, the nation. ”.
The atmosphere in the Palacio de Congresos was electric. The sea of flags. La Marseillesa a cappella and with a bare cry. The heat, the sweat. Le Pen’s supporters chanting, like in a stadium, “we are going to win” and “Marine president”. The enthusiasm of men and women, old and young of all ages, who gave a fairly fine-tuned image of the sociology of Le Pen’s voter.
“We are fed up with Macron,” said Amandine Pommier, a medical assistant from Ardèche, 130 kilometers north of Avignon. From there, to see Le Pen, she had come with her mother, Brigitte Betrand, 66. Pommier complained that, against her will, they had forced her to be vaccinated against covid to continue working. She blamed the president for the fact that the police had repressed the demonstrations by the yellow vests, in which she participated. Bertrand complained that he had just retired and his pension amounted to 1,184 euros net. “Macron despises people like us, the middle class, the workers,” said the daughter. “The company bosses are doing well.” Both were convinced of the victory of “Marine”, as everyone calls her.
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Base lepenista they are the people with the least income and the fewest diplomas, the small employees and the workers, the inhabitants of the France of the provincial cities who feel that the France that is doing well looks down on them, despises them. They were all at the Palais des Congrès in Avignon, a city where the most voted in the first round was Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a candidate from the populist left. The city is in the department of Vaucluse, fiefdom of National Rally, the party of Le Pen.
Capturing Mélenchon’s votes
In all of France, Mélenchon was third last Sunday, very close to Le Pen. That is why today the more than seven million voters melenchonists they are the most precious object of desire in France. They and the abstentionists – if someone manages to mobilize them – will decide the winner within ten days.
Macron and Le Pen court these voters. Macron points out that Le Pen is from the extreme right, a label that she rejects. He warns that he is incompetent to rule France. And he offers the most progressive profile of him having leaned towards the center-right.
Le Pen tries to forget his ideological identity, the extreme right. At the rally he charged against immigration, but it was not the issue that most interested the public. Applause erupted when he brandished populist and social rhetoric: lower VAT on fuel and its elimination for 100 basic products, 10% increase in wages, elimination of income tax for those under 30… Nobody knows. how she will finance these measures, but the candidate believes that the message can work. And at rallies it works.
It has something of a caricature, but if a rally is a more or less accurate reflection of a country, Le Pen’s France is that of those who do not speak like in Paris, of men who wear tattoos and earrings, young people with precarious jobs or women who work in hospitals or supermarkets and find it hard to make ends meet. And this France was well represented in Avignon and they applauded Le Pen because, although she is the rich heir to the political clan of Jean-Marie Le Pen, she knew how to talk to them. A Macron rally is another universe: men in ties, some university students, retirees and wealthy middle classes, businessmen from the provinces or bourgeois from big cities who live connected to the global world.
“Emmanuel Macron’s world vision promotes deregulation and enslaves man under economic and accounting logics, to the laws of the market and the king of money,” said the candidate. “The national vision that I represent defends the nation as a protective space that postulates that the economy is at the service of the people and the nation, and not the other way around: man is not only an economic agent, but a being affected, of affiliation , of transmission”.
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