Nationalist firebrand Marine Le Pen has launched her 2022 presidential campaign with a bold vow to crack down on gang-controlled and “Talibanised” areas of major French cities, saying she “will eradicate the gangs and put French delinquents in prison, foreigners on the plane.”
The Eurosceptic politician also insisted that France should resume control of its own immigration policy – a view recently taken up by former EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who last week kickstarted his own campaign by calling for a referendum on immigration and the rejection of ECJ and ECHR jurisdiction over French border rules.
Le Pen spoke in lofty terms of National Rally supporters on Sunday, warning that the upcoming vote “will not only be a choice of society. It will be a choice of civilisation, a choice of life and future for our children, a choice of security and power for our country, a choice of freedom and independence.”
She spoke out against Emmanuel Macron’s draconian pandemic measures, and also vowed to get tough on rising crime. ““There will be no place in France where the law does not apply,” she said. “We will eradicate gangs and mafias and all those, Islamists or not, who want to impose rules and ways of life that are not ours.”
Le Pen continues to perform well in French election polls, with almost all surveys showing the nationalist icon and incumbent Emmanuel Macron once again ending up in the two-person run-off.
A recently released Harris poll, conducted on 8 September, shows Le Pen just four points away from the presidency – down from a two point deficit reported in January, but significantly up on her 33% final round performance in 2017.
But Le Pen could yet face one more obstacle on her way to power, with growing speculation that controversial right-wing pundit Eric Zemmour could enter the race – risking a split vote on the patriotic French right, and opening the door to a different candidate in the run-off.
“I think Eric Zemmour is part of those who believe in France. We have differences, but we win in unity and not in division. I will never treat him as an opponent” said Le Pen, following unflattering remarks from Zemmour suggesting that Le Pen would be unable to topple Macron. “I think he should reserve his attacks for Emmanuel Macron.”