A new name is generating buzz in global politics.
You may have heard of Marine Le Pen as France gears up for a major presidential election. The far-right politician running for the country's highest office founded the National Front party and led the group until last week, when she stepped down to focus on her campaign. Its possible that you already know that the National Front, and in turn Le Pen, don't have the most inclusive track record. And whether you live in France or not, there are a few things you need to know about Marine Le Pen.
First, it's helpful to know who she is running against. Her opponent, Emmanuel Macron, is running as an independent and previously worked as an economic adviser to France's Socialist President François Hollande and has a background in investment banking.
Macron and Le Pen beat out three other candidates in the first round of voting, leaving the two of them to duke it out until the run-off election May 7. Here are all the facts you need to be up to date on France's contentious election and the woman trying to make political waves.
Her party has a racist history
Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie, previously led the National Front, when it was known for denying the Holocaust and wanting to deport millions of foreigners. Le Pen denounced her father's anti-Semitic language and tried to somewhat alter the party's reputation, but she hasn't been entirely successful.
On Friday, her successor as leader of the National Front, Jean-François Jalkh, stepped down after it was discovered that he questioned the existence of gas chambers during the Holocaust in a 2000 interview for a PhD student's dissertation. The comments were published in the research journal Le Temps des savoirs in 2005, quoting him saying, "On the use, for instance, of a gas called Zyklon B, I think it's impossible, I mean impossible, to use it from a technical point of view ... in mass exterminations." He denied that he said that, and Le Pen's campaign manager defended him on TV, saying it was "obviously based on false accounts," BuzzFeed News reports.
Still, this does not bode well for Le Pen's efforts to rebrand her party as not anti-Semitic.
Her main platform is reducing immigration
Like her father, Le Pen wants way less immigrants in France — and we're talking about legal immigrants. She proposes cutting back the number of people allowed to enter France each year from around 200,000 to 10,000.
"More and more are coming from the third world, taking advantage of our benefits," she said at a campaign rally, according to The New York Times. "It’s a choice of civilization. I will be the president of those French who want to continue living in France as the French do."
She co-opted the #ImWithHer slogan
Although her politics more closely mimic President Trump's, Le Pen is attempting to become the first female president of her country, just like Hillary Clinton was in the U.S. election. She's used her gender to her advantage, and her supporters even repurposed Clinton's #ImWithHer slogan to paint Le Pen as a feminist candidate online (even though Le Pen once said for "France, anything is better than Hillary Clinton").
However, as The Washington Post points out, Le Pen hardly ever mentions women's issues — and they certainly aren't the cornerstone of her campaign. She really only talks about gender equality when it will further her anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant agenda. For example, she refused to wear a headscarf when meeting with a Muslim leader in Lebanon, telling reporters it was because of her devotion to women's emancipation, according to The Post.
The French election is disturbingly similar to America's, and it's definitely one to keep an eye on. The political landscape could be very different in France — and subsequently Europe — soon.