French President Emanuel Macron is gearing up to fight the upcoming European elections, hoping his party will become the biggest from France in the European Parliament. However, latest polls show that French voters may turn the election into a potential protest against Macron, a move that Marie Le Pen will see as an opportunity to get the better of the opponent who defeated her in 2017.
"Everything has changed," she said in an interview with AFP last week in the parliamentary office she has occupied since winning a seat in the National Assembly two years ago.
The name of her party, previously known as the National Front, has certainly changed. Now dubbed National Rally, and with an overhauled programme, it is now topping opinion polls with around 24% of the vote, just ahead of the centrist alliance which includes Macron’s Republic on the Move.
"Before we were on our own on the European scene... we didn't have any allies. But in the space of a few months, a whole range of political forces have risen up in spectacular fashion," she said, referring to the strength of populist parties in Italy and Austria, as well as Germany, Spain and Sweden.
Le Pen has called for the European polls to be a referendum on Macron's term just as Macron looks to recover from six months of anti-government protests by "yellow vest" demonstrators.
"At the national level, if he comes out on top, he will obviously draw an illusionary sense of legitimacy and start what he has called the 'Second Act' of his term," Le Pen said.
"So, I am saying to the French: get in his way, I beg you. Stop him by voting for the only party list in front of Emmanuel Macron," Le Pen added.