Le Pen – father and daughter
Le Pen’s father celebrated May Day in his traditional venue at the famous golden statue of Jeanne d’Arc, next to the Louvre Museum. Perhaps three hundred turned up. A nasty old man abandoned by almost everyone. 15 years ago, this weekend, France was in the course of creating a united block (faire barrage) in favour of Chirac and against Le Pen in Round 2 of that 2002 Election, regardless of former voting allegiance. Huge rallies were held throughout France. A million people (maybe more) may have marched that day; in Paris it was said to be the largest demonstration since the 1944 Liberation of Paris.
What a difference 15 years makes. The world turned upside down. Some thousands of trades unionists in different parts of Paris (30,000 marchers overall said the police), and other French towns. Some trade unions calling for a vote against Le Pen, a handful for a vote for Macron, some refusing any position, and some wanting both to be beaten (‘Plague or cholera: we don’t want either’). [About 150 idiots (agents provocateurs? anarchists?) threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the CRS and injured some of them. Not unhelpful to Le Pen].
Le Pen herself was at a rally in Villepinte, a working class suburb north of Paris. And she was actually talking of the need to faire barrage against Macron. It seems she’s had a strategy from the beginning. She spent the first week (after Round 1) getting as many as possible to join her in the fight against Macron – especially making direct appeals to Mélénchon’s voters. Now for a change of approach – except that she permanently uses Mélenchon-type language such as referring to the oligarchy.
Her Villepinte speech was a non-stop personal attack against Macron: a near-endless repetition of the single litany that Macron = The Return of Hollande. The latter perhpas intended to appeal, above all, to ex-Fillon voters.
There were no references whatsoever to Le Pen anywhere in the hall, or in her speech. Marine, and nothing but Marine, from all who spoke (including Dupont-Aignan).
Le Pen was super-confident, relaxed, smiling, enjoying every minute of her hour’s speech. She really looked on top form. Some quotes from her speech:
- ‘Macron’s the enemy of the people’
- ‘Macron’s a synthetic candidate’
- ‘Francois Hollande wants to impose his young colt on you’
- ‘With Emmanuel Macron, Hollande wants to remain and hold on to power like a barnacle’
- ‘Hollande … said in 2012 : ‘My real enemy has no name, no face, no Party. Never a candidate, it’ll never be elected. Yet it rules. That enemy is the world of finance.’ Well today’, said Le Pen, ‘the enemy of the French people is still the world of finance. But this time it has a name, it has a face, it has a Party and it is a candidate. Everyone dreams of seeing him elected: his name is Emmanuel Macron. Mr Macron has adopted a slogan Ensemble, la France. He would have been more honest to say Ensemble, la finance.’
- ‘With me, the world of finance will never capture the Elysée … I call on you to faire barrage against finance, arrogance and money means power’
- ‘Macron is Hollande’
- ‘Macron wants the uberisation of society’
- ‘Macron thought Round 2 would be a health tour but the candidate of the system is slipping up’
- ‘I will be the President of all who suffer, all who work. Macron is for the rich and the bankers’
- ‘My opponent doesn’t dare to say who he’ll nominate as his Prime Minister, doubtless so as not to frighten the French. Imagine if he confirmed that Parisot was going to be nominated’ [see Day 10]
- ‘Macron’s made a round of cemeteries [to commemorate the Deportation of French Jews and the murder of a young Tunisian by the Extreme Right] that’s a bad omen for him’
- La Marseillaise (to conclude) was specifically sung as a homage to the police, soldiers, fire officers, health workers ‘who serve us all’
As shiny paper dropped to celebrate the end of the meeting, she stood with muguets (lily of the valley – always given out on 1 May) in hand, Dupont-Aignan at her side and surrounded by tricolore-waving young people.
[Not one word from Le Pen about such boring issues as leaving the Euro or monetary soveriegnty]
Mélenchon for Mélenchon
Mélenchon went so far as to warn his voters against the ‘terrible mistake’ that a vote in favour of the Front National would represent. Saying ‘I will not vote for the Front National, I fight the Front National’ … he certainly didn’t go anywhere near saying that people should actually vote Macron. He also had the nerve to say that ‘there is no ambiguity in my position’.
Prime Minister Cazeneuve, said to Mélenchon ‘There’s still time to choose the Republic … Every woman and man of the Left should be appealing unambiguously for a vote for Macron’.
Lawyers for Macron
A thousand lawyers called for a vote for Macron, saying Le Pen’s election would be the end of the rule of law. ‘Our Republic is based on fundamental values such as justice, equality, fraternité, the plurality of opinions and the respect of beliefs. Marine Le Pen clearly wants to overturn these values in favour of authoritarianism, xenophobia, becoming inward-looking, corporatism and hatred of the other’.
Macron against the Front National
He came on with his slightly strained smile, doing that terrible winking at people he recognises in the near audience. It was perhaps a better speech than some he’s given. It was serious and was a nearly non-stop attack on the Front National and everything it stands for, as well as personally naming Mme Le Pen again and again and again.
He spoke, as ever, in front of both a French and a European flag, with a backdrop of young people wearing (for the most part) bright pink and bright yellow Macron T shirts.
‘Next Sunday, we’re deciding not just the next 5 years of France but future decades. The future life of the French people. Our life together. The future of France and of Europe.’
‘In the face of Front National insults and against the obscenity of the Front National, we will re-build and re-establish.’
‘The Front National do not try to heal evil they just want to exploit anger’.
He said there were lessons to learn from the Round 1 vote: ‘Firstly, the French want hope and optimism – that’s why they placed us first last Sunday. Secondly, the French are angry. We must listen to them. Some want a Europe that’s different. Lots are frightened for their children and we must listen to them.’
He mentions Le Pen which draws whistles from the audience. As always, he insists: ‘Don’t whistle her. Make her lose. Fight her.’
‘The Front National is the party of anti-France … they are a denial of our values … they are a party of withdrawal, protectionism, isolationism, nationalism’
‘The Front National uses anger, they spread lies’
‘The Extreme Right are against the liberty of the press, as in Italy of the Thirties. The Far Right are against gay marriage. Extreme violence is the project of the Far Right. A reduction of liberties. We will never accept their programme.’
‘I will never judge someone who votes for the Front National. I am never against any Front National voter who is voting because of anger, indignation, disenchantment, dismay … but the Front National exploits their anger, indignation, dismay.’
‘I will never accept the division of the country. I will never accept that people who believe in Islam are insulted because they believe in Islam. I will never accept that other religions are insulted either’
‘We want a strong Europe because we want a strong France’
Later on Monday evening, Macron said: ‘Mme Le Pen detests what I am because she does not respect the French people for their diversity’.
- Macron 61% Le Pen 39% (OpinionWay rolling poll 28-30 April)
- Macron 59% Le Pen 41% (Kantar Sofres 28-30 April)
- 56% of Round 1 abstainers still abstain, 25% vote Macron, 19% vote Le Pen; 52% of Mélenchon voters will vote Macron with only 17% Le Pen (Kantar Sofres)