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France

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen shares personal life in new blog

© Screenshot of website www.carnetsdesperances.fr showing French far-right leader Marine Le Pen watching TV with her daughter

Text by Rachel HOLMAN

Latest update : 2016-02-24

Seeking to connect with French voters on a more personal level, far-right leader Marine Le Pen launched a new blog on Tuesday that gives an unprecedented glimpse into her life as “a free woman, a mother, a French person”.

Le Pen, who is head of the far-right National Front (FN) party, said she wanted to start the blog as a way to “break the rhythm imposed by campaigns, the media” by speaking directly to the French public.

“This blog will relay... my dreams, my disappointments and above all my reasons to believe in the future. It will bring together my notebooks of hope for my compatriots,” Le Pen wrote on the site.

Aptly titled “Notebooks of Hope” (“Carnets d’espérances”), the blog gives an intimate look at Le Pen’s private life and is peppered with photos of her doing everyday things, like watering the geraniums in her window box or eating with her family.

The first post, which shows Le Pen at home with her daughter watching President François Hollande on TV, sets the tone of the entire blog. Written in the first person, it reads like a diary, filled with the author’s personal reflections and political convictions.

“This Thursday night, I, like so many French people who despite everything still want to believe, inflicted the president of the Republic’s interview on TF1 and France 2 [television] upon myself,” she wrote.

“Unfortunately, his comments were unsurprisingly hollow, insipid, often confusing... Intuitively, we sense there’s no more power in the seat of power, which is, moreover, dispersed above all in Brussels, but also in Berlin, Beijing, [London], Washington and other islands where the world’s, and France’s, decisions are made,” she continued, reflecting her party’s fiercely anti-European Union stance.

Shift in strategy

The blog marks a shift in Le Pen’s communication strategy, as she is widely expected to make another run for the presidency in 2017. In the past, the far-right leader has been vocal about the right to privacy, even supporting Hollande when revelations of his affair with actress Julie Gayet hit the news in January 2014.

“I am for privacy. For everyone,” she told France’s iTélé television at the time. “I am shocked by any infringement of privacy.”

But it now appears that she has opened her life to the public. While her posts are in line with the FN’s political platform, she has been careful to omit any visible or literal references to the party on the blog.

This may be in part due to the FN’s longstanding reputation as a fundamentally racist and anti-Semitic party, which it denies. Ever since taking over the party’s leadership from its founder, her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2011, Marine Le Pen has worked hard to detoxify its image. Yet despite her efforts, 56 percent of French people still believe that the FN “poses a threat to democracy”, according to a poll published earlier this month by market research company TNS Sofres.

With campaigning for the 2017 presidential election already underway, Le Pen is seeking to build new support by distancing herself from the party's brand and sharing her personal life with voters.

So what have we learned about Le Pen so far? If the photos on her blog are anything to go by, she’s clearly a cat person.

Date created : 2016-02-24

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