She is the new girl wonder of the French far right, a glamorous 25-year-old poised to break down many mainstream conservatives’ qualms about casting their vote for the Front National.
Since she was elected the youngest MP in French parliamentary history, aged 22 three years ago, while a second year Sorbonne law student, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, niece of Front President Marine and grand-daughter of its obstreperous founder Jean-Marie, has had the fastest learning curve in French politics since Bonaparte’s.
On Sunday, buoyed by the shock of the Nov 13 Islamic shootings in Paris, the list she heads is widely expected to come in first in the Provence-Côte d’Azur region, with polls giving her some 40 per cent of the vote. Even if the third-ranking Socialists drop out of the race to favour her Gaullist opponent in next Sunday’s runoff, Marion, as she’s known, has the most chances to swing into office, giving the Front National a shot at ruling one of France’s most dynamic regions, and the second most populous after Paris.
Her aunt may well lead a Front victory in the North, a depressed region with high unemployment, little prospects for development, and bleak cities like Roubaix and Tourcoing, the French answers to Bradford in terms of a tense ethnic mix. The last authorised polls before Sunday’s vote even gave a lead to the FN in six out of 13 French regions, although this is not expected to translate into many actual victories.