A racist rant that could break Marine Le Pen's momentum
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Grégoire de Fournas, member of parliament of the right-wing National Consolidation (RN). interrupted him Carlos Martens Bilongo, a representative of color from the far-left La France Insoumise (LFI) at a session of the French National Assembly, shouting:

Go back to Africa!

Bilongo asked the French government to contact the other EU countries, including Italy and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in order to jointly support the African refugees rescued from the Mediterranean. Then De Fournas shouted scandalously, and the meeting was immediately adjourned.

According to Carlos Martens Bilongo and his party, De Fournas’ statement was a racist, personal attack, while De Fournas’ party defended itself by saying that the shouting was not directed at Bilongo, but at the refugees.

Mathilde Panot, a politician from La France Insoumise, demands that De Fournas be expelled from the National Assembly.

Racists like him have no place or speak in our parliament

he wrote on Twitter.

Eszter Petronella Soós is a France expert on his blog dealt with the case and wrote his opinion about what happened. The political scientist, humanities specialist in French language and literature also quotes representative de Fournas, who, according to him, only indicated that he would turn the ships carrying immigrants back to Africa. “Linguistically, in principle, either is possible, because the two sentences sound the same in French, the difference is only indicated by writing. However, in order to analyze the political situation, we don’t actually need to consider the context or decide what was said,” he notes.

Assessing the situation, the assistant professor at Milton Friedman University contrasted exorcism and demonization and expressed his insights in five points.

According to Eszter Petronella Soós, Marine Le Pen has been practicing the strategy of exorcism for a decade and a half. Its aim is to remove the racist, anti-Semitic image of the National Collapse, while reshaping the radical right-wing party both ideologically and content-wise. This strategy has now gained momentum, as the French press has been mainly concerned in recent hours with whether racist comments were made in the National Assembly or not.

It’s just a pose, haven’t the Le Pens changed?

According to the analyst, the strategy basically worked successfully, since while Jean-Marie Le Pen hit a glass ceiling of 18 percent in the second round of the presidential election in 2002, Marine Le Pen already achieved over 40% in 2022. The expert believes that the political opponents have an interest in breaking the National Collapse-Le Pen dynamic. The opposing parties want to prove that the exorcism is not a real change in content, but only a pose. According to Soós, therefore, the recent outcry was a political mistake, which gave the left an excellent opportunity to thematize political issues and bring down Le Pen.

The expert sees it as: the expression of Grégoire de Fournas also causes a problem for Marine Le Pen personally. He should now strive with great strength to show a competent alternative in French political life as the main leader of a moderate party, but instead he is forced into a spectacular defensive fight on a very sensitive topic.

The current scandal could be the central theme of the next campaign

According to Eszter Petronella Soós, the current scandal could set back Marine Le Pen’s 2027 campaign preparations. “Given his good starting position, Le Pen may even be a candidate for the next presidential election, but only if he does not make mistakes or if his team does not make mistakes. Such indiscipline and mistakes can make the radical right-wing politician’s otherwise relatively good starting position very difficult.”

Can Macron benefit the most?

And the main goal of the Macrons now cannot be other than to intensify the demonization again and to embarrass the radical left (LFI). Le Pen’s party voted for one of the radical left’s no-confidence motions and promises to do the same for the next one. This is an opportunity for Macron to communicate that Le Pen has teamed up with the LFI, so the center is the only moderate force.

“The LFI, on the other hand, sees an opportunity right now to defend itself against this centrist game and radically and spectacularly distance itself from the RN, deeming the Le Pen party indecent. Ergo: it is in the interest of both communities, the center and the radical left, to raise the voice of the speech polemic. The next few days will decide who plays this game the most skillfully,” he writes Eszter Petronella Soós.

Update: the The Guardian reported on Friday that Representative Grégoire de Fournas he was banned from the National Assembly for two weeks, and he can only draw half of his representative’s salary for two months.

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