Moderate no more: Macron courts far-right as France turns attention to next year’s presidential election

As jostling begins for the 2022 election, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party has begun using the language of the right, reports Borzou Daragahi

Tuesday 30 March 2021 17:11
<p>Spoiling for a political fight: French president Emmanuel Macron</p>

Spoiling for a political fight: French president Emmanuel Macron

Marine Le Pen is often seen as the premier anti-Muslim politician and anti-immigrant bigot of France, and even Europe.

But in a televised debate last month with French interior minister Gerald Darmanin, of president Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Forward party, she suddenly found herself the defender of Muslim rights while her opponent accused her of having “gone a bit soft” on the nation’s largest religious minority. “You need to take some vitamins,” he said. “You’re not tough enough here.”

Le Pen was dumbfounded. “I can confirm that I don’t intend to attack Islam, which is a religion like any other,” she said. “And, because I am strongly attached to our French values, I want to conserve total freedom of religion.”

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