French far-right party rising in wake of mass protests

In the wake of protests sweeping France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is on track to become the country’s largest party in the European Parliament, according to a new poll.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The far-right National Rally Party of Marine Le Pen is gaining ground in France as mass demonstrations continue to roil the country in protest of the Macron government’s economic policies.

According to polls, the National Rally is on track to become France’s largest party in the European Parliament, which is due to hold elections this May, Israel Hayom reports.

The elections will be the first time French voters will have a chance to express their opinion at the ballot box since voting in Emmanuel Macron as president last year.

The survey, conducted by a respected firm in France, showed that the formerly named National Front party is leading Macron’s On the Move! Party (24% to 18%), while the the extreme left Resistance Party is coming in at 11 percent.

According to the report, the rising popularity of both the extreme Left and Right in all EU countries could have a major impact on the European Parliament and affect EU policies.

Marine Le Pen has run for president twice. In the 2017 elections, she made it to the second round, losing to Macron but receiving almost 34 percent of the vote.

She is working to remake the image of the extreme nationalist party founded by her father, Jean LePen. She even expelled him from its ranks a few years ago after he made public statements that did not accord with the new, softer image she is trying to project.

‘Yellow Vest’ protests

Le Pen has called for Macron to “recognize society’s suffering and deliver immediate, very strong responses” as Yellow Vest protests rattle the country.

Called “Yellow Vests” for the reflective garb motorists wear when stopped on the side of the road, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in cities across France since mid-November, demanding that the government lower living costs and calling for Macron to resign.

Negotiating grievances may be difficult for Macron as the demonstrators come from different political backgrounds and there are no official leaders.

Macron is also viewed as a candidate for the rich and out of touch with middle and lower middle class French citizens, who must bear the brunt of rising prices and slashed housing allowances.

The protests forced the government to repeal an unpopular gas tax, but Macron is resisting another demand – the reversal of a tax break for the wealthiest citizens.

Protests have sometimes turned violent, especially in Paris, where armored cars were seen on patrol for the first time last week.

It is the worst rioting France has seen in decades, and police have responded with riot dispersal methods and arrests, with about 1,400 people being detained countrywide.