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Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-08-06

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right party, wants a new generation of voters to see her softer side with the launch of a new website showing her staring out to sea while deep in thought, tenderly stroking a cat and smiling while on horseback.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right anti-immigrant and anti-Europe National Front (FN) party, launched a personal website to mark her 45th birthday on August 5 – complete with pictures aimed at showing the gruff-spoken politician’s sensitive side.

In one seaside shot, she is stroking a cat on a wheelbarrow. In another she sits on a rock staring out to sea, apparently deep in thought. And then she’s looking at lists of French soldiers who died in the Second World War – pictures all designed to show a devoted, thoughtful and sensitive human being.

It is a far cry from the image of her father, firebrand FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, a man who enjoyed stoking controversy by calling the Holocaust “a mere detail” of the Second World War.

Le Pen, who inherited the FN leadership in July 2011, has been keen to soften the image of her party since she took the helm.

A 'humanising' PR exercise

And according to French academic and far-right expert Jean-Yves Camus, publishing these pictures demonstrates her determination to be seen as part of the political mainstream, rather than leader of a party of angry middle-aged white men.

“She is certainly not the first politician to pose on horseback,” he said. “This is the kind of PR exercise that most politicians indulge in, to humanise their personalities for a wider audience.”

A “particularly smart” shot, he added, was of Le Pen staring wistfully at a list of Second World War victims, “Morts Pour la France” [Died for France].

“By doing this she is distancing herself from another side of far-right French political history, namely the Vichy government,” said Camus, referring to the 1940-1944 French government that collaborated with the German occupation.

“By honouring victims of Vichy and the Nazis, she is trying to show that she is patriotic but not fascist.”


Date created : 2013-08-06


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