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The rise and rise of France’s far-right Marine Le Pen

By Angelique Chrisafis

04 Apr 2022 · 4 min read

From her housing estate in northern Marseille, Elisabeth, 68, who once voted for the left, will return a ballot for the far-right Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election this month. “People used to think Marine was nasty,” she said. “Now they realise she’s not. Other politicians are taking her ideas. They all talk like her now.”

Elisabeth left school at 16 and worked at a shoemaker’s, in factories and as a housekeeper, but her €800 pension barely covers bills and food. “I live on credit, overdrawn by the middle of the month,” she said. “I make a weak stew and it lasts me three days. But Le Pen will cut taxes and put money in our pockets.” She agrees with Le Pen’s anti-immigration stance. She feels “Europeans” are becoming outnumbered in multi-ethnic northern Marseille and worries about crime. “I’ve been mugged twice, once for a necklace, once for a cigarette,” she said. Society is tense and divided, she feels, but Le Pen will “calm things down”.

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