Jordan Bardella on the left and Marine Le Pen in the center, during Nation Day, in Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), May 1, 2023. CYRIL BITTON / DIVERGENCE FOR “THE WORLD”
Dynamic and demonized in its borders; sulphurous and withdrawn outside: one year before the European elections, the National Rally (RN) finds itself in this paradoxical situation. In France, he is carried by the first polls placing him in the lead, as in 2019. In Europe, the prospect of leading a powerful group of eurosceptics has never seemed so remote.
“A campaign is three things: a list with a leader, alliances and a line. With us, the first two are already settled”, welcomes MEP Thierry Mariani. He compares himself to the other main parties, who ignore their head of the list and therefore their campaign axes – Renaissance, Les Républicains – or even their strategy of alliances – the left. Jordan Bardella, who persists in not confirming his place at the top of the list, will launch the campaign in September. His will: to make it a referendum on the policy of Emmanuel Macron, French-style “midterms”.
“There will be a very strong national dimension,” he said on May 1 in Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), on the sidelines of the “Nation Day” of the far-right party. “In 2019, the “yellow vests” carried the European campaign; social protest [contre la réforme des retraites] is act 2 of the “yellow vests”. In fact, the violent demonstrations of winter 2019 had resulted in the highest turnout for this election in twenty-five years (50%). The RN had reaped the benefits, turning in the lead ahead of La République en Marche (ex-Renaissance), despite the difficulties of the movement at the time and a then novice and unknown head of the list, Mr. Bardella.
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“There is no reason to do anything other than Europeanize the problem of purchasing power, that of immigration, of sovereignty, confirms Jean-Philippe Tanguy, deputy president of the RN group at the National Assembly. . No need to invent the powder. The RN will put the future European pact on migration and asylum at the heart of its campaign, a reform of European policy in this area which should be completed during the electoral campaign. The theme of “empire against nations”, aimed at denouncing the presumed imperialism of Brussels and carried by Philippe Olivier, thinking head of the RN group in the European Parliament, arouses less enthusiasm. Jordan Bardella, who does not hide his perplexity on this axis of campaign, hardly takes it up on his own.
Blockage on the relationship with Russia
One problem remains: the European dimension of the ballot. In January, Jordan Bardella announced in Le Point a tour of European capitals to meet his potential allies, to whom he was to propose, “by spring”, two alliance pacts: one relating to the “protection of our identity and our borders”, the other on that “of our internal market thanks to economic patriotism”. A few months later, it is clear that his carbon footprint is moderate: a stay in Portugal, where the far right is likely to send a handful of elected officials to Strasbourg for the first time; another in Rome, where he was forced into a meeting on the sly with the ally of the RN, Matteo Salvini (Northern League), and kept away by the party Fratelli d’Italia, of the president of the council, Giorgia Meloni; a last on the occasion of the meeting of American and European conservatives in Budapest, where he appeared with the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.
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