French far-right leader Marine Le Pen loses another ally as niece pulls support

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is tipped as a likely candidate to reach the second round of the presidential election in April. But she has lost the support of her niece, a darling of the far-right.

Marion Maréchal (left) and Marine Le Pen (right) are both important figures of the French far-right.
Marion Maréchal, left, became the first National Front MP elected to the French parliament since 1997 in 2012. She has refused to lend her support to her aunt, Marine Le Pen, right. (Photo by Joël SAGET / AFP)

Marion Maréchal, a former MP for the far-right Rassemblement national (RN) party, will not support its candidate – her aunt, Marine Le Pen – in the French presidential election. 

In an interview with Le Parisien, Marion Maréchal, who became the youngest MP in French parliamentary history at the age of 22 back in 2012, hinted that she may lend her support to another far-right candidate, Éric Zemmour. 

“It would not just be a question of passing by and saying hello. It would mean returning to politics,” she said on Thursday.

“It is a true life choice to make, a decision that weighs heavily.”

Marion Maréchal stepped down as an MP in 2017 to set up a private university in Lyon specialised in conservative political studies, but remains a popular figure of the French far-right. 

Marine Le Pen has reacted angrily to the news which comes after the high profile defections of former close allies Gilbert Collard and Jérôme Rivière to Zemmour.

“She indicated that she would support the candidate that is best placed. Undoubtedly, I am the better place than Éric Zemmour today as I am tipped to make it to the second-round of the election,” said Le Pen. 

An unnamed  member of Le Pen’s entourage told BFMTV: “Even if she [Marion Maréchal] went for it, it would only increase Zemmour’s support by 1 percent. She represents a microcosm. She has shut herself into an extreme-right ghetto”. 

According to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive from January 21-24, Marine Le Pen is the most likely candidate to face French President Emmanuel Macron in the second round run-off of the presidential election in April, winning 17 percent of the vote in the first-round. 

The next likeliest challenger is the right-wing conservative candidate, Valérie Pécresse, who is currently polling at 15 percent. Éric Zemmour, a far-right media pundit and newcomer to the world of party politics, stands at 14 percent. 

Macron has yet to officially announce his bid for reelection but last week said he would give his decision “in due course”. 

Member comments

  1. It would seem to escape all far right candidates that a vote for any of them is basically a vote for Macron. Unless their supporters show more sense and engage in large-scale tactical voting, it will be more of the same come April.

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.