Marine Le Pen Leads Far-Right Fight to Make France ‘More French’

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from The New York Times,

Slipping in polls in the final days before the start of France’s presidential voting on Sunday, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen is rallying her base by hardening a line — already very hard — on her principal campaign theme: immigration.

At her party’s campaign rally Wednesday night in Marseille, a city where immigrants are omnipresent, Ms. Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, vowed to clamp down, expel, stamp out and restrict immigration, and to make France “more French.”

The tough talk was met with thunderous chants of “This is our home!” from a hall packed with 5,000 supporters waving French flags, many bused in from all over southern France.

In the stands, her supporters spoke of “massive” immigration, and Ms. Le Pen echoed the word right back to them, and then some.

“Just watch the interlopers from all over the world come and install themselves in our home,” she said. “They want to transform France into a giant squat.”

“But it’s up to the owner to decide who can come in,” Ms. Le Pen continued. “So, our first act will be to restore France’s frontiers.”

The words were red meat to her base of supporters and were intended to shore up her flagging poll numbers as the campaign closes. Polls once showed her at 30 percent, but instead of consolidating her lead, her support fell as doubts about her readiness to govern grew.

Two men who were thought to be also-rans — Jean Luc Mélenchon of the far left and François Fillon of the center right — have been catching up and are within three points of her.

Ms. Le Pen is still expected to emerge on Sunday as one of the two finalists in the May 7 runoff, a breakthrough for the far right, given that her father’s second-place finish 15 years ago came as a shock.

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