Pla­gia­rism or ‘wink’? Le Pen lifts ri­val’s speech

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - LORI HINNANT AND AN­GELA CHARLTON

PARIS — Far-right can­di­date Marine Le Pen lifted ver­ba­tim parts of a speech by a for­mer ri­val in what her crit­ics called pla­gia­rism and she said was a de­lib­er­ate “wink” to him to woo his con­ser­va­tive vot­ers in France’s pres­i­den­tial run-off Sun­day.

The stolen words and ca­sual re­ac­tion by Le Pen and her team marked the lat­est shock­ing devel­op­ment in a French pres­i­den­tial cam­paign like no other. Per­haps more sur­pris­ingly, there was lit­tle sign it would dam­age Le Pen.

Polls con­sider her cen­trist ri­val Em­manuel Macron the front-run­ner in the vote, seen as a test of global pop­ulism and a de­ci­sive mo­ment for the Euro­pean Union.

Le Pen bor­rowed from a speech de­liv­ered last month by Fran­cois Fil­lon, the for­mer Repub­li­cans party can­di­date, about France’s im­por­tant role in Europe and the world.

The sub­ject is at the heart of Le Pen’s cam­paign. She prom­ises to re­store French glory, pull France out of the EU and re­turn to the franc cur­rency. She has de­nounced the ef­fects of glob­al­iza­tion on the French econ­omy and cul­ture.

Speak­ing April 15, Fil­lon de­scribed France as a force reach­ing out on mul­ti­ple fronts:

“The English Chan­nel and the North Sea open­ing onto the An­gloSaxon world and to the im­mense north­ern spaces . ... The At­lantic, which has opened us for cen­turies onto the great sea and brings us ad­ven­tures. The Mediter­ranean, the cra­dle of some of his­tory’s old­est and rich­est civ­i­liza­tions . ... The Pyre­nees, first of all, en­gag­ing France with that im­mense His­panic and Latin uni­verse. The Alps bor­der, with Italy our sis­ter and be­yond that cen­tral Europe, the Balkans and east­ern Europe . ... France is some­thing more and much more than an eco­nomic, agri­cul­tural or mil­i­tary power.”

Le Pen, speak­ing Mon­day at a Paris re­gion cam­paign rally, said:

“The English Chan­nel and the North Sea open­ing onto the An­gloSaxon world and to the im­mense north­ern spaces. The Mediter­ranean, the cra­dle of the old­est and rich­est civ­i­liza­tions. The Pyre­nees, first of all, en­gag­ing France with that im­mense His­panic and Latin uni­verse. The Alps bor­der, with Italy our sis­ter and be­yond that cen­tral Europe, the Balkans and east­ern Europe . ... France is some­thing more and much more than an eco­nomic, agri­cul­tural or mil­i­tary power.”

Like three of her aides ear­lier in the day, Le Pen used the word “wink” to de­scribe the ex­tracts copied word for word from Fil­lon. At no point in the speech did she cite Fil­lon or ac­knowl­edge the source.

“I to­tally own this wink,” she said in a Tues­day night in­ter­view with French broad­caster TF1 news.

BOB EDME, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A woman walks past elec­toral posters of French pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Em­manuel Macron, torn at left, and Marine Le Pen in As­cain on Tues­day.

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