Spotlight: Experts dissect Le Pen's possible strategies to win French presidency

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-26 23:32:46|Editor: An
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File photo taken on Feb. 4, 2017 shows French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron addressing a campaign rally in Lyon,France. Centrist candidate and former minister of economy Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on Sunday came out on top in the first round of the French presidential election, according to projections by several pollsters. (Xinhua/Han Bing)

PARIS, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Following the first round of voting in the French presidential election, two specialists on the extreme-right at the Radical Politics Observatory of the Jean-Jaures Foundation presented their analyses concerning the result for far rightist Marine Le Pen and the possible strategies that she may adopt against favorite centrist Emmanuel Macron.

The National Front struggles to appeal to retirees, university graduates and upscale professionals, Nicolas Lebourg, one of the two experts, said.

For two years, the National Front was predicted as the majority party for first-time voters, and yet, during the first round, it was leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon who earned the most ballots among these voters, according to the French historian.

"(Marine's father) Jean-Marie Le Pen had a voter base more male and we have observed a reduction in the gap between men and women in 2012 with a 2-point gap. However, on April 23, Marine Le Pen clearly attracted fewer women than men with a 4-point gap which is important to note," he underlined.

Along the French Atlantic coast and especially in Brittany, Macron finished first, while the National Front scored well in the north east and the south east of France where it has had a strong base for several years.

The historian confirmed the tendency of National Front being popular in small rural towns in France. However, Melenchon's bet aiming to position his party as an alternative to the National Front seems to work, Lebourg added.

Le Pen's strategy for the second round consists of appealing to French who voted "no" in the 2005 referendum on a European constitution

"It's not an obvious move because the leaving behind of the right-left divide would help make the party move away from the National Front's extreme-right label. However, this shift toward a new 'globalist-patriot' split is difficult on a strategic level," Lebourg said.

"According to the National Front, Macron incarnates cultural, political and economic liberalism. However, this position is difficult because moderate-right voters, who Le Pen will try to rally, are largely afraid of Le Pen's economic program," he added.

The absence of issues such as identity, Islam and immigration, dear to the extreme-right, could backfire if the National Front chooses to further blur left-right divide.

For Jean-Yves Camus, director of the Radical Politics Observatory of the Jean-Jaures Foundation, said Le Pen's campaign strategy for between the two rounds of voting will consist of impressing upon the French electorate that she is the candidate of the markets, of French identity against cosmopolitanism.

"She knows how to attack Macron and she will do it by addressing Francois Fillon's voters who are responsive to identity rhetoric and those who have in mind a hatred of the left," he added.

Le Pen will also tell Luc Melenchon's voters that there is a historic opportunity to beat someone who represents global capitalism and hated elites.

Unlike Melenchon and Macron who support immigration, Le Pen would "write national preference into the French constitution", Camus pointed out.

He added Le Pen's retiring from the presidency of the National Front is a step to the side and not a resignation or a rupture from the core values of the party.

"Le Pen positions herself in the perspective of a France out of the European Union. But a parliamentary majority for the National Front is absolutely out of the question," Camus said.

In upcoming legislative elections in June, Camus felt the National Front could "certainly do better than its two current representatives out of 577 in total".

KEY WORDS: French presidential election