A statement that will have caused a lot of ink to flow. In an interview broadcast on Sunday May 28, 2023 by Radio J, the Prime Minister decided to attack the far right by designating the National Rally as “heir to Pétain”.
“I do not believe at all in the normalization of the National Rally. I think that one should not trivialize its ideas, its ideas are always the same. So now, the National Rally is putting the forms in it, but I continue to think that it is a dangerous ideology”, she explained to our colleagues.
These statements did not fail to react on one side or the other of the Hemicycle, welcomed by the left and condemned by the far right. But factually, can we say that this party is really the heir of Vichy France?
The National Front was born on October 5, 1972. Among the founders of the party, there is of course Jean-Marie Le Pen, the face of the political formation. But at his side, there are also former Petainist militiamen such as François Brigneau or Léon Gaultier. But the formation also includes personalities such as Pierre Bousquet, notorious collaborationist and former Waffen-SS of the Charlemagne division.
By becoming president of the National Front, Marine Le Pen wishes to mark a break with the ideas of her father. In 2015, she decided to exclude her father from the party then, in 2018, she renamed the party National Rally. But for many, this breaking of the facade has brought no change to the nationalist ideology that remains at the root of the far-right formation.
Asked about the party’s name change, Elisabeth Borne for her part confirmed, still at the microphone of Radio J, “I have never heard Marine Le Pen denounce what the historic positions of her party may have been and I think that a change of name does not change the ideas, the roots”.
If these declarations made react on the right as on the left, it was also the case within the Elysée. Emmanuel Macron has thus decided to reframe the Prime Minister after these remarks.
“We have to fight the far right but we don’t fight it with the words of the 90s and moral arguments, it doesn’t work anymore.” During the Council of Ministers, the President of the Republic did not mince his words with regard to his Prime Minister, according to his comments reported by a minister to franceinfo.
Emmanuel Macron believes that it is now necessary to fight the National Rally “on the ground of efficiency”. “The millions of French people who vote for the RN are not all fascists. We will not be able to make the millions of French people who voted for it believe that they are fascists.”, he explained.
For his part, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, publicly supported the head of government after this formal reframing. “The RN has a history and the Prime Minister is perfectly justified in recalling this history”, he explained on France Inter as reported by Le Figaro, specifying that we can “remember perfectly, as did the first minister, the history of the RN while fighting the party on its proposals and ideas”.
He even insists, specifying that it takes all the more in the face of a party which has “more than 80 deputies, a political force in our country and yet none of the solutions work, cannot be effective”.
But after these statements, is Elisabeth Borne’s place at Matignon in question for the Head of State?
After the controversy caused by his remarks, Emmanuel Macron returned, during his trip to Slovakia this Wednesday, May 31, to his statements. He thus reaffirmed “all his confidence” in Elisabeth Borne, as reported by BFMTV.
However, he still maintained his speech from the day before, saying that “we can no longer beat the far right in our democracy simply with historical and moral arguments. […] Firstly because this far right is is transformed, and then because it has a lot of voters today who do not vote for this story, but because they say to themselves “deep down, we have not tried this yet, and what they offer us seems attractive.”
In his eyes, to fight against the far right, it is necessary to respond with “concrete”. It is thus necessary to “reindustrialize[er] the country, [tell] the truth about the public accounts, and lead[er] sometimes unpopular reforms”.