Youth of France in lockstep with National Front’s Marine Le Pen

Youth of France in lockstep with National Front’s Marine Le Pen, by Jacquelin Magnay.

Support for [Marine] Le Pen, 48, is expanding among the youth of France, both unemployed and the educated, many of whom say the presidential candidate and her far-right Nat­ional Front party have galvanised them to vote for the first time. …

During the past few years, Le Pen has worked hard to detoxify the party founded by her anti-­Semitic, homophobic and racist ­father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and forge in its place an inclusive modern party that is even attracting some disenchanted left-wing social conservatives to sit among its base, the disaffected right.

Marine Le Pen, 2005

Le Pen is promoted as an egalitarian nationalist and her popularity has doubled from the 2012 election. Polls show she has the support of nearly 40 per cent of people under 25 …

Bordeaux locals Davey Baudet, 26, and his partner Amelie Mie­agea, 25, are in the army and say the key issue for them is not immigration or the EU but, rather, Le Pen’s ability to understand their concerns.

“She is someone we can trust,” Baudet tells Inquirer. “We don’t trust any of the other politicians; they are in it for themselves. But Marine is a real voice with real ­solutions and she offers us hope.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, some of Le Pen’s fiercest supporters are young women fearful of the influence of Islam in France. Le Pen addresses them midway through her rousing, hour-long speech: “Girls in France should be able to dress as they wish … they shouldn’t be forced to bury themselves under clothes of another age.”

She stresses how French youth are the “first victims” of untrammelled immigration because such openness of borders “drags on wages and breaks the social system”. The room erupts.

Audrey Soch­o­vetgaray, 30, is among a group of friends stomping and cheering. “Marine is strong,” Sochovetgaray tells Inquirer. “She is a very strong woman and a fighter, and I am not scared when I hear her talk. We are scared of migrants and she understands that.”

Behind her, three sisters nod their agreement. One tells me that Le Pen’s support is “growing every day among her friends” because “she represents us”.

hat-tip Stephen Neil