A record 3.5 million viewers watched Marine Le Pen’s performance on the French political television show “L’Emission politique” on Thursday 9 February. The Front National leader, who is currently expected to finish first in the First Round of voting in 10 weeks achieved the highest rating for the show with 16.7% audience, double that of Benoît Hamon’s appearance (8%) in early December.
The president of the Front National was far ahead of Francois Fillon who had 9.4% of viewers or Alain Juppé who, with 13.2%, held until then the record audience. “This is a record in audience and audience share since the presidential election in 2012 for the political show on Thursday night on France 2,” the channel said in a statement. Marine Le Pen has something to celebrate.
Especially since of the three presidential candidates who have already participated in “The Political Broadcast” on France 2, the President of the National Front is the one that has convinced the most viewers.
The difference is certainly minimal with Benoît Hamon and François Fillon (41% against 40 and 38) but her detractors who hoped to see her fail were in for a disappointment.
Immigration, euro, national preference … the fundamentals
What did the viewers see? They confirmed that the program of Marine Le Pen has changed little since 2012. The main principles, national preference, exit of Europe and the euro, Protectionism and refusal of immigration remained there. Only in a desire for normalization, it has sometimes softened the discourse .
On the issue of refugees, she was confronted with her declarations of 2011 when she declared she wanted to “repel boats in international waters”. Six years later, she no longer says she wants to push them away but proposes to “put these people on our own boats and take them home.”
The same applies to the death penalty which has disappeared from its program in the sense that it no longer wishes to reintroduce it itself. She reiterated her position: to institute real perpetuity but to allow the French who wish, through a referendum of popular initiative, to have a choice to vote for the death penalty. Symbolic but symptomatic of the efforts made by the candidate of erasing some shock ideas.
Highly anticipated on her economic issues, it seemed she had more in difficulty when confronted with the reality than on the major financial problems. Faced with a mother of a Senegalese family who sent criticized the inconsistencies of her plan for taxing foreign workers and facing the patroness of an SME worried about the return to the franc and customs borders, Marine Le Pen was destabilized while she replied with more assurance – but not necessarily more precision – to journalist François Lenglet.
Conscious of the opportunity of this show, the candidate had prepared herself and her party to denounce the approximations of journalists and opponents. When criticism was cast on the funding of her program, she responded with slogans saying “my project is balanced,” she said. “You have only an accounting view,” she also replied when she was told that she was relying on “hypothetical recipes”.
A month after Donald Trump took office, Marine Le Pen also made many references to the US president. Of his “Muslim ban” the candidate of the FN said to be inspired. And so much the worse if the billionaire is already highly criticized across the Atlantic, she knows that his anti-system credo is his chance in April next year.
The mysterious Patrick Buisson
Facing her, she will find Francois Fillon and Emmanuel Macron whom she threw in the same bag. “There’s behind it all a smell of influence peddling, perhaps, a conflict of interest at the very least,” she said of the affairs that concern her rivals. And when it came to answering accusations of fictitious jobs that directly concern her, she accused the system of wanting a political justice. As for Benoît Hamon, he was attacked on one point: his supposed laissez-faire with the radical Muslims.
After Alexandre Jardin for Bruno Le Maire or Philippe Martinez for Manuel Valls, it was Patrick Buisson who played the role against Marine Le Pen. It was to the former obscure adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy, ex-boss of the extreme right-wing Minute, that he returned to question the candidate on his right-left position. To the great anger of the Net surfers who saw a confrontation of two figures of the extreme right French one of whom is more than ever in contention to accede to the supreme magistracy.