Marine Le Pen looks set to shortly benefit from another high-ranking endorsement from the right, that of former parliamentary deputy and respected author, Philippe de Villiers.
The upcoming endorsement, expected to be formalized within days, will aide Le Pen in wooing a contingent of the seven million plus voters who had supported establishment conservative, François Fillon, in last week’s first round of voting.
A large number of Fillon’s supporters were politically mobilized Catholics, convinced by his stance on social issues such as gay marriage and surrogacy, hot button issues in what is still, in certain respects, a culturally conservative country.
Political leader and author, Philippe de Villiers, pictured with Marion Maréchal-Le Pen last year.
Hailing from an aristocratic family in France’s Vendée region, the former deputy of both the French and European parliaments himself ran for president in 1995 and 2007 on a pro-sovereignty, eurosceptic ticket. Internationally, de Villiers is better known as an entrepreneur and founder of the historically themed ‘Puy du Fou’, a hugely popular theme park set around the ruins of the Château du Puy in Western France.
The park, which attracts 2.2 million visitors a year, made headlines in 2016 when it purchased the signet ring worn by Jeanne d’Arc – Joan of Arc – at auction in London for $410,000. The historic and religious relic, symbolic to French traditionalists, was received in the park last May to great fanfare almost six centuries after falling into the hands of the saint’s English captors. It remains within the Château at Puy du Fou.
‘’Today our country is in mortal danger, gravely threatened in terms of her identity and her sovereignty,’’ de Villiers, a critic of Islamic expansion and mass immigration, warned in an interview with Le Figaro in late March. In the same interview, he praised Le Pen’s ‘’presidential stature.’’ Sources close to de Villiers have hinted that an official endorsement would be forthcoming ‘’very rapidly.’’
Such an endorsement would come at a time when much of the mainstream establishment are throwing their weight behind ultra-liberal, open borders candidate, Emmanuel Macron, with a plethora of powerful political figures – and everything from masonic lodges to washed-up celebrities – publicly calling for a united front to keep Le Pen from power.
France’s media elite are also firing on all cylinders to prevent the nationalist from taking the Élysée palace, as alluded to by the candidate in an interview with Le Parisien this morning.
Asked about her chances of victory, Le Pen stated that she expected to win – as did her rival, she joked, judging by the ”feverishness and aggressivity of him and his show-biz friends in recent days.”
Trailing behind Macron in the polls, the Le Pen camp will be working to forge further alliances in this final week of the campaign. At the same time as seeking to broaden her support base, Le Pen has not strayed from key platform issues, reiterating this morning in her interview with Le Parisien that the ‘’the euro is dead’’, and advocating a return to the French franc whilst keeping the European single currency for international trade.
Both Macron and Le Pen will hold large rallies in Paris tomorrow. Given the huge cost of such rallies and the fact that French banks have refused to loan to her party, Le Pen will likely focus the remainder of her resources on campaign stops across the country and on media interviews, including Wednesday night’s head to head debate with Macron, which could yet turn out to be the defining moment of the presidential race.
Photo Credits: Puy du Fou [http://www.puydufou.com/en/accueil] , Bruno Amsellem – L’Obs