The 144-point election platform Ms. Le Pen released this month consecrates her transformation of the National Front from the single-issue party of angry white men her father founded, into a catch-all populist formation appealing to working-class voters, small-business owners, law-and-order types, Euroskeptics, French nationalists and secularists alike. The platform is a France First manifesto aimed at restoring French greatness. Sound familiar?
There she was last week, enduring the heckling of inmates at a suburban Paris jail and promising 40,000 new prison spaces during her first term. She was the only leading candidate to accept an invitation from prison guards to inspect the overcrowding that has made French prisons among the worst in Europe and breeding grounds for Islamic radicalism. Muslims are vastly over-represented, accounting for an estimated 60 per cent of inmates. Ms. Le Pen would increase the number of prison spaces by two-thirds – and fill every one of them.
A few days earlier, Ms. Le Pen was in Beirut, where she refused to don the head scarf handed to her in advance of a scheduled meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti, a Sunni Muslim spiritual leader. “Give my regards to the Grand Mufti, but I will not veil myself,” Ms. Le Pen insisted as the cameras rolled. Planned or not, the stunt delighted her supporters in France. As did the headline in a pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper: “You are not welcome in Beirut.”