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European Arbitrations in the French Campaign by Hélène de Lauzun

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European Arbitrations in the French Campaign

At the end of January, the Madrid Summit gathered the main European national-conservative leaders for a few days at the invitation of the VOX’s party president, Santiago Abascal. Marine Le Pen represented the Rassemblement National (RN), and used the platform to renew her campaign issues at a time when the atmosphere in France has been dampened by the wave of defections from her party in favor of the candidate Éric Zemmour. 

This trip had a strategic objective: she intended to strengthen her international stature and her credibility regarding her ability to lead, as she has just obtained a loan of €10.6 million from a European bank for her presidential campaign. The country of origin of the funds is unknown but the granting of this loan comes at the right time because the finances of the Rassemblement National are in bad shape, which obviously has important consequences on the way Marine Le Pen conducts her campaign and communicates her party’s agenda. 

Marine Le Pen’s trip allows her to distinguish herself from Zemmour who, for his part, made hectic international trips to London and Geneva in his pre-campaign phase. In September 2021, Zemmour went to Budapest with Viktor Orbán for the international summit on demography organized by the Hungarian prime minister. Marion Maréchal was also invited. But in Madrid, Marine Le Pen had a one-on-one breakfast with Viktor Orbán who, according to a journalist from the news channel LCI, gave her his support in unambiguous terms: “I hope that the French will elect someone who defends the family, Christianity, and is opposed to migration. Marine Le Pen is this kind of leader … she is very respected in Hungary.” 

The migration of deputies from Rassemblement National to Reconquête will have repercussions in European politics, since they are members of the Strasbourg Parliament. Jérôme Rivière and Gilbert Collard have been excluded from the Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament, where the RN has its seat, but could be tempted to join another group. In the war between the two parties, supporters of Marine Le Pen are playing on the international stature of their candidate to regain confidence: “They have Collard, we have Viktor Orbán,” says a close friend of the RN president. 

In Madrid, Marine Le Pen renewed her support for Hungary and Poland on the issue of the superiority of national law over European law. Having given up on leaving the euro, she is now defending her desire, with her European partners, to “change Europe from within.”

Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).

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