1 She’s part of the smart set – Le Pen likes to pitch herself as an ‘outsider’ and her party does well in France’s rust belt of poverty-stricken former industrial areas, but in fact she was born in the very wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, which is twinned with the English royal town of Windsor.
Her presidential rival Valérie Pécresse – sometimes branded Princess Valérie in French media – was born in the same suburb one year earlier.
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2 She has a turbulent family – Famously, it was her father Jean-Marie Le Pen who founded the Front National, which Marine took over leadership of in 2012 and renamed Rassemblement National (national rally) in 2018. She later barred her father from the party over his anti-semitic remarks and the pair were estranged for some years.
She helped to raise her niece Marion, who followed her into politics but has this year declared that she will not support RN and is instead backing Marine’s extreme-right rival Eric Zemmour. Reacting to the news on TV, Marine appeared close to tears as she described her niece’s act as ‘brutal’.
3 She’s a qualified lawyer – She has advanced studies in criminal law and six years of legal practice under her belt.
Maybe it’s her legal training that has helped her to avoid the multiple convictions for hate speech of both her father and her rival Zemmour, although she has been before the courts and acquitted several times, particularly for her remarks concerning Islam.
4 She’s actually pretty keen on foreigners – At least when it comes to campaign funding.
Her 2022 bid is largely funded by loans from Hungarian banks while for the 2017 campaign Rassemblement National was in receipt of loans from Russian lenders. And talking of funding, she was placed under investigation for improper use of EU funds, which prosecutors say were actually used to finance party work. She was ordered to pay back nearly €300,000.
5 She survived bomb attack – When she was eight, her home was targeted by a bomb intended for her father, who was already heavily involved in far right politics.
Marine, her two sisters and their parents escaped unharmed, although the bomb ripped through the stairwell of the family home.