Le Pen: ‘Beat’ Macron in EU vote

Far­right party hopes May elec­tion will spur changes in Europe

The Dallas Morning News - - World/from The Front Page - By SYLVIE COR­BET

PARIS — France’s far­right Na­tional Rally party launched its cam­paign Sun­day for this year’s Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tion, which it and other na­tion­al­ist, anti­im­mi­gra­tion move­ments hope to dom­i­nate.

Dur­ing a speech in Paris, party leader Ma­rine Le Pen urged vot­ers to seize the May 26 vote as a chance to “beat” French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron af­ter weeks of antigov­ern­ment protests.

“The mo­ment of the big po­lit­i­cal changeover has come,” Le Pen said of the hoped­for wins by na­tion­al­ist move­ments like hers.

“What we pro­pose is a quiet tran­si­tion from the Euro­pean Union to the Euro­pean al­liance of na­tions ... that will al­low us to re­con­quer our bor­der con­trol, our leg­isla­tive, bud­get and mon­e­tary sovereignty,” she said.

French vot­ers will fill 79 of the Euro­pean Union leg­is­la­ture’s 705 seats. Le Pen’s party placed first in France dur­ing the 2014 elec­tion and has a good chance to do the same this year.

Le Pen sug­gested that the yel­low vests protests against Macron’s eco­nomic poli­cies dur­ing the last two months could help her pop­ulist party at the bal­lot box. The move­ment started to op­pose fuel tax in­creases but ex­panded to chal­lenge gov­ern­ment poli­cies seen as fa­vor­ing the wealthy.

The move­ment ap­peared to gain new mo­men­tum over the week­end. The French In­te­rior Min­istry said about 84,000 peo­ple turned out Satur­day for the ninth straight round of demon­stra­tions across France, up from 50,000 the pre­vi­ous week.

“To­day, it’s in­evitable that the yel­low vests are part of the na­tional con­text and will in­flu­ence, of course, the elec­tions,” Na­tional Rally ac­tivist Wil­liam Courtin said at the party meet­ing. “In our fa­vor, I hope.”

The French pres­i­dent’s of­fice is­sued a “let­ter to the French” from Macron on Sun­day evening. He ex­plained how he planned to ad­dress the yel­low vests move­ment’s con­cerns through a three­month “grand de­bate” tak­ing place through meet­ings in all the coun­try’s re­gions start­ing this week.

In the let­ter, Macron en­cour­aged the pub­lic to use the de­bate to ex­press views on four main top­ics: taxes, pub­lic ser­vices, cli­mate change and demo­cratic is­sues.

“That’s how I want to turn angers into so­lu­tions with you,” he wrote.

The French leader said the de­bate would help the gov­ern­ment de­velop poli­cies and France’s po­si­tion on the Euro­pean and in­ter­na­tional scene.

Jac­ques De­marthon/agence France­presse

“What we pro­pose is a quiet tran­si­tion from the Euro­pean Union to the Euro­pean al­liance of na­tions,” far­right leader Ma­rine Le Pen told sup­port­ers Sun­day.

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