Beaten but not Broken, Le Pen Eyes Parliamentary Vote
Defeated in Sunday’s vote, France’s Marine Le Pen is now positioning herself as “the primary opposition force” against President-elect Emmanuel Macron’s policies.
Just minutes after polls closed in France’s major cities with early results showing she had lost the 2017 presidential race, Le Pen took to the stage to deliver a concession speech.
“France has voted for continuity,” she noted in a tone that implied her defeat was clearly no surprise. Having established that, Le Pen was quick to set the stage for her next political act.
"The National Front, which has embarked on a strategy of alliances, must also profoundly renew itself in order to live up to this historic opportunity and the expectations of the French," she said. "I therefore promise to undertake a thorough transformation of our movement to constitute a new political force.”
Le Pen received 34 percent of the votes cast on Sunday, making her a potent opposition force for Macron during the first five-year term of his presidency.
As her supporters waved flags and chanted, “Thank you Marine,” Le Pen said she was eyeing a new political force ahead of the June legislative elections.
She also hinted that her National Front party may rename itself, a sentiment echoed by deputy party leader Florian Philippot, who told a French TV station Sunday that the party would "transform itself into a new political force which, by definition, means it will no longer have the same name".
Lessons must be learned
Reacting to Sunday’s election results, Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a National Front lawmaker, said her aunt's softening of the party position was not understood by French voters.
Ditching the euro is one of Le Pen's key policies, but a majority of voters oppose it. Over the past few days, Le Pen had said it wasn't a pre-condition to her economic plans and the timetable could be extended, but she stuck to her wish to return to the French franc.
"There are clearly lessons to be learned," Marechal-Le Pen said on France 2 television.
"Marine Le Pen was right to say, even if that came late, that leaving the euro was not a pre-condition to all our economic policies and that she would hold a referendum."
She added: "We clearly didn't manage to get this election to be understood as a referendum for or against France, a referendum for or against immigration ... for or against the European Union as we know it."