Marine Le Pen: Trump win boosts my chances

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Media caption,

Le Pen's National Front (FN) is known for its anti-EU, anti-immigration platform.

France's far-right leader has told the BBC that Donald Trump's victory in the US has boosted her own chances of being elected president next year.

Marine Le Pen, who leads the French National Front (FN), said Mr Trump had "made possible what had previously been presented as impossible".

She is widely expected to reach the second round of the election in May.

Ms Le Pen also held up Russian President Vladimir Putin's rule as model of "reasoned protectionism".

Her Eurosceptic, anti-immigration party took more than 27% of the vote in regional elections last December but did not get control of any region because mainstream parties worked together to defeat it.

Analysts expect other parties to again rally behind her opponent in the presidential ballot, if she does reach the run-off.

However, Mr Trump's shock election on an anti-immigration, protectionist platform and the UK's referendum vote in June to leave the EU have rocked the political establishment on both sides of the Atlantic.

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said both Mr Trump and Ms Le Pen use "awful and absurd language" against Muslims and other minorities.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "She uses this populism against minorities in order to get herself elected."

'No reason to be scared'

Speaking to the Marr Show in a pre-recorded interview, Ms Le Pen was asked if victory now looked likelier for her.

"Yes, I wish that in France also the people upend the table, the table around which the elite are dividing up what should go to the French people," she said.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
A row over Muslim beachwear divided French public opinion this summer

French voters would, she said, be offered the choice of a multicultural society "following the model of the English-speaking world, where fundamental Islam is progressing" and "an independent nation, with people able to control their own destiny".

"I believe that every country has the right to defend its own interests," she added.

She also called the EU an "oppressive model", and said it would be replaced by a "Europe of free nations" which "many Europeans are yearning for".

Asked about the potential threat posed by Russia since its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and military intervention in Syria last year, she said there was "no reason to be scared".

"Russia is a European country, and so we'd better, if we want a powerful Europe, negotiate with Russia," she added.

She also praised that country's "reasoned protectionism" under President Vladimir Putin, who she says is "looking after the interests of his own country, defending its identity".

Asked about immigration, Ms Le Pen said: "We are not going to welcome any more people, stop, we are full up!"

On relations with French Muslims, she said she did "not judge people based on their religion" but the state would "act accordingly" if people refused to "comply with our codes, our values, our French lifestyles".

France is home to the largest Muslim community in Western Europe. Jihadist attacks over the past two years have contributed to a rise in anti-immigration sentiment.

The FN leader denied her party was motivated by racism, saying: "I don't think it's racist to say that we cannot take in all the poverty of the world, we cannot take care of hundreds of thousands of people arriving here, because our first obligation is to protect the French people."

But Mr Corbyn said Le Pen uses a "shallow, populist, nasty" appeal.

He added: "The reality is she does not have an economic answer to the problems faced by left communities in France, any more than UKIP has an answer to the left behind communities in Britain".

A spokesman for UKIP said the party had made it clear for many years that it does not share the same policies of the FN, whose immigration policy is driven by its "long standing antipathy to significant groups".

"We believe that immigration is a boon to this country, but that it should be controlled, with no hint of favour for any group or ethnicity," the spokesman added.

UK viewers can see the full interview on BBC One's Andrew Marr show at 09:00 GMT on Sunday, and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer