Smiling, relaxed and sipping champaign. Chatting in a garden about her hobby of gardening. Not your typical politician interview but this is how Marine Le Pen pushed down the Front National’s barrier and let outsiders in.
Last October, Marine sat down with Karine Le Marchand. A talk show host in the same popularity to Oprah. On Karine’s show “Une Ambition Intime”, where instead of hardball question, she paints their portrait and talks about their interest, hobbies. The only thing political about this program is that politicians were the guest. This show was exactly what Madame Le Pen needed.
Since its founding, the Front National has been very closed off. They were struggling to bring in new members due to her father’s controversial rhetoric. The party had reached new lows and was falling apart. With dismal showings at the polls and no new candidates getting elected, something needed to change. With the retirement of her father in 2010, Madame Le Pen saw an opportunity to revive the once prominent party.
She wanted to soften the xenophobic image of the party and turn into a strong prominent mainstream party. By smiling and staying calm, she reversed the public’s opinion on her party comparably to her father’s wild screaming rants. She viewed by the electorate as more as moderate. Her political views were seen as more moderate. She talked about her childhood escaping bombings when she was little. She condemned racism when she saw it and refused to believe the most radical parts of her father’s ideology. This and more contributed to the “de-demonization” of the Front National.
Critics of the Front National were very against this change in the party with some calling the party “a far-right with a human face”. The move was incredibly successful as it brought the once fringe party into the mainstream spotlight.
The move does not work on all though, as her ideology is still very extreme. School Teacher Natalie Wasserman thought “that she trying to hard…”. Many think this image Madame Le Pen projects is fake and not authentically her true self.
Once a fringe party, the Front National has turned into a mainstream party where the ideology has become more and more normalized. The de-demonization of the party has worked for now but will it stay. That’s Marine’s mission.