Europe faces an unusual shock if Marine Le Pen wins the French presidential elections on April 24 against the current president, Emmanuel Macron. Le Pen’s program does not propose an explicit break with the European Union or with NATO, but, if it is applied, it will mean a radical shift in the position of France, the central country in the common project and a power endowed with nuclear weapons. And, with her proposal to close a future alliance with Russia, she threatens to blow up Western unity at the moment of greatest tension in decades and in full Russian bombing and attack in Ukraine.
In a speech on Tuesday in Strasbourg, the European capital, Macron warned: “The project of the extreme right is a project that hides the exit from Europe.” And he warned against “the return of nationalism and the return of war.”
The far-right candidate, an avowed admirer of Vladimir Putin for years, announced in a speech and press conference in Paris on Wednesday that she would push for a security alliance with Russia once the war in Ukraine ends. She charged against Germany, a founding partner with France of the European Union, and buried the military cooperation between the two countries: the Franco-German engine does not enter into any of her diplomatic calculations; their alliances are others.
Le Pen did not promise the exit of her country from the EU, as in the presidential elections five years ago, but her program announces the intention of transforming it from within, and replacing it with an Alliance of Nations in which national law would prevail over European law . To achieve this he has allies such as Hungary and Poland.
With the aim of reaffirming “the non-submission to an American protectorate on European soil”, Le Pen announced France’s departure from NATO’s integrated military command, which she re-entered in 2008 after General de Gaulle had removed her in 1966. “France is not a middle power, but a great power that still counts,” Le Pen said in an appearance interrupted by a group protesting his ties to Putin and forcefully evicted by security guards. “The three pillars of our diplomacy are independence, equidistance and perseverance.”
In the electoral program, Le Pen promises that “an alliance with Russia will be sought on substantive issues” and cites, among other issues, European security and the fight against terrorism. Before the press, the candidate herself said that this alliance should be made when the war is over and a peace treaty has been formed. And included NATO in it.
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Le Pen has had close ties with Putin for years. He visited him in the Kremlin during the 2017 campaign and declared his admiration for him. In a television interview, he said: “The broad political lines that I defend are the broad political lines defended by Mr. [Donald] Trump and by Mr. Putin.” His party, the National Rally, is indebted to a Russian bank that financed it in the past decade.
And yet, the far-right leader has emerged unscathed from the Russian invasion of Ukraine during an election campaign more focused on the economic effects of the war for the French than on the war itself. In the first electoral round, on April 10, she was the second most voted candidate, behind Macron, and she qualified in the second round. In 2017; Macron won with 66% of the vote. She got 34%.
In the campaign and at the press conference, Le Pen makes an effort to play down her proximity to Moscow. He says that if his party got into debt with a Russian bank, it was because no French bank wanted to lend him money. When asked about his proposal for a security alliance with Russia, he relies on a tradition of French diplomacy that is equidistant between the powers and replies that Macron also, receiving Putin on the Côte d’Azur in 2019, the current president also aspired to , like her, to “bring Russia closer to Europe.
In the 2017 presidential elections, held less than a year after the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, Le Pen promised Frexit and exit from the euro. They were not popular promises. He now he has rectified. But it seems to be more a question of method than of objectives.
“I repeat it: [el Frexit] It is not our project,” he said. “We want to reform the EU from within. But the more we free ourselves from the straitjacket of Brussels, even if we remain in the EU, the more we will look towards the vast world. It seems to me that the English understood it well”. The goal: to break free from European laws and build “a Europe that respects sovereign nations.”
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