Candidate Le Pen blasts globalisation

Far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen speaks in Lyon, France. Photo / AP
Far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen speaks in Lyon, France. Photo / AP

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen blasted globalisation and Islamic fundamentalism in her closing speech today of a two-day National Front party conference, calling them "two totalitarianisms" threatening France.

To applause and cries of "On est chez nous" (We are in our land), Le Pen served up the grand themes of the party that have made her a leader in early polls of the northern spring presidential election.

"We are at a crossroad....This election is a choice of civilisation," she said, asking whether her three children and other young citizens would have the rights and culture of the current generation.

"Will they even speak our French language?"

Yesterday, the party published Le Pen's 144 "commitments," a nationalist agenda that envisions a France unshackled from the European Union and Nato and that ensures work, healthcare and other services for its own citizens amid drastically reduced immigration.

She said she is defending both France's material and immaterial heritage, "which has no price."

Echoing US President Donald Trump's "America First" pledge, Le Pen proposes amending the French Constitution to include the words "national preference".

Running on a campaign slogan of "In the name of the people," Le Pen called out for French "patriots" on the left and right to join with her.

In politics, "the division is no longer right-left (but) patriot-globalist," she said. "You have your place at our side."

The National Front has taken heart in the disarray of the left with the unpopularity of Socialist President Francois Hollande who decided not to seek a new mandate.

The right's leading candidate, Francois Fillon, has been caught up in a corruption scandal, opening the way for maverick centrist Emmanuel Macron - who could face off against Le Pen. The chances for Macron, a rebel from the Socialist Party, were unclear.

Le Pen has been a leader in early polls, which place her at the top in the April 24 first-round vote but not winning the May 8 runoff.

If elected, she envisions a "government of national unity" formed after June legislative elections.

Le Pen told the crowd at the congress centre in the southeastern city of Lyon that globalisation is "erasing" France and Islamic fundamentalism is "planting itself in some neighbourhoods ... and vulnerable minds."

Le Pen listed Muslim veils, mosques or prayer in the streets of France as unacceptable cultural dangers that "no French person ... attached to his dignity can accept".

No one living in France illegally will be given papers or be able to acquire the French nationality, she said.

"When you arrive in a country, you don't start violating laws, demanding rights," she said in reference to what she calls "massive immigration".

She added: "There will be no other laws and values in France but French".

Among her 144 commitments is to limit immigration to 10,000 and restrain family reunification policies that has allowed many immigrants, mainly from former French colonies in North Africa, to bring in relatives.

She said she would arrange for foreigners convicted of crimes to serve their prison terms in their homelands.

She blasted the EU as a master enslaving its members. "All agree the EU is a failure. It hasn't upheld one of its promises especially in terms of prosperity and security. Worse, it's imposed a form of tutelage, keeping us on a short leash," Le Pen told the cheering crowd.

-AP

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