Jon Rogers, Express, May 18, 2017
The former leader of the Front National Marine Le Pen is due to stand as a candidate in Calais in the June elections.
Emmanuel Macron stormed to power in France’s presidential elections earlier this month with 66 per cent of the overall vote with large swathes of the country voting for the centralist candidate.
Ms Le Pen got strong backing in both the north and south of France where concerns over immigration are high, winning the departments of Pas-de-Calais, in northern France and Aisne.
Seizing the opportunity to return to the political front line, Ms Le Pen confirmed she will stand for parliament.
Ms Le Pen said: “Yes, I will be a candidate… this battle of the legislative elections is fundamental.”
She added she had a “strong emotional relationship with the inhabitants of the Pas-de-Calais mining area”.
In the past, Ms Le Pen has pledged to take legal action against France over the so-called refugee camp that arose at the northern port of Calais.
The camp became a major centre for refugees with many attempting to cross the Channel to Britain.
Many Calais residents had openly expressed animosity to the camp. Those views, coupled with problems of high levels of unemployment and poverty created fertile ground for Ms Le Pen’s sentiments to prosper.
Ms Le Pen was previously been a regional councillor in Nord-Pas-de-Calais for six years from 1998.
Earlier this week she told TF1 evening news: “It’s fundamental (that I run) after everything that we are seeing and all this collusion between the Socialists and the (conservative) Republicans.
“We need lawmakers that are not complicit and defend the interests of the French and France. So the best assurance is to have National Front (FN) lawmakers.”
The Front National bills itself as France’s main opposition party, a label contested by The Republicans.
The Front National has only two outgoing lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, but polls show the party securing about 20 percent of the vote in the first round of the National Assembly election on June 11.
Although it is unlikely to secure that much of the vote in the second round, the party is expected to substantially increase its tally of lawmakers.
Ms Le Pen’s heavy electoral defeat has prompted soul-searching within the Front National with some blaming her commitment to quitting the euro zone for the outcome and raising questions over her leadership.
Her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen, one of the two outgoing Front National deputies, has decided not to stand for re-election, a move that highlighted the divisions in the party.
While Ms Le Pen has largely remained tight-lipped over the reasons for her heavy defeat she indicated the televised debate with her rival before the second and final round of voting may have cost her the presidency.
The 48-year-old sought to play down differences within the party, but acknowledged the question of the euro had unnerved a few in her camp.
She said: “The debate in the second round was missed. I did it with passion, with passion, maybe too much passion.
“I am well aware that the subject of the euro has worried the French considerably, and we will have to take that into account.”