The Telegraph reports:
She is the new girl wonder of the French far right, a glamorous 25-year-old poised to break down many mainstream conservatives’ qualms about casting their vote for the Front National.
Since she was elected the youngest MP in French parliamentary history, aged 22 three years ago, while a second year Sorbonne law student, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, niece of Front President Marine and grand-daughter of its obstreperous founder Jean-Marie, has had the fastest learning curve in French politics since Bonaparte’s.
On Sunday, buoyed by the shock of the Nov 13 Islamic shootings in Paris, the list she heads is widely expected to come in first in the Provence-Côte d’Azur region, with polls giving her some 40 per cent of the vote. Even if the third-ranking Socialists drop out of the race to favour her Gaullist opponent in next Sunday’s runoff, Marion, as she’s known, has the most chances to swing into office, giving the Front National a shot at ruling one of France’s most dynamic regions, and the second most populous after Paris.
The region has GDP of US$183 billion and a population of five million – so bigger than New Zealand.
The last authorised polls before Sunday’s vote even gave a lead to the FN in six out of 13 French regions, although this is not expected to translate into many actual victories.
Even winning control of one region will be a massive victory.
By all rational expectations, the kick-off prime time debate, a month ago, between the former Gaullist PM and presidential hopeful Alain Juppé, 72, and the lonely Ms Maréchal-Le Pen, the Front’s sole MP, looked to be an unequal battle. The Bordeaux Mayor, a consensual conservative seen as less divisive than Nicolas Sarkozy, expected an easy win spotlighting his experience and reasonableness. It didn’t go that way.
With the odd toss of her long blond hair, the poised Ms Maréchal Le Pen trounced one of France’s best-known political figures. She gave back soundbite for soundbite, smilingly quoting from Juppé’s campaign platform verbatim, forcing him to look up his own points in the book he signed, and dropping on occasion the kind of Latin quote, Boris Johnson-like, which France’s right-wing electorate loves. She made him sound old without sounding wiser.
If she wins, she will have beaten a former PM to do it.
She is of course the niece of the overall leader of the National Front, and it is quite possible one of them will become the first female President of France.