- Title: Softening the far-right's image, Le Pen marches closer to French presidency
- Date: 14th April 2017
- Summary: FREJUS, FRANCE (FILE - SEPTEMBER 18, 2016) (REUTERS) LE PEN IN A RALLY SAYING (French): "Long live the republic, long live France."
- Embargoed: 28th April 2017 16:05
- Keywords: Marine Le Pen Jean-Marie Le Pen National Front far-right president
- Location: VARIOUS LOCATIONS, FRANCE/ KOBLENZ, GERMANY/ UNKNOWN LOCATION, FRANCE
- City: VARIOUS LOCATIONS, FRANCE/ KOBLENZ, GERMANY/ UNKNOWN LOCATION, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00G6CEG0G7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS MORE COMPLETE PROFILE REPLACES 1136-FRANCE-ELECTION/LE PEN-PROFILE FILED ON MONDAY, APRIL 10
France's far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has traveled a long route in her campaign for the French presidency.
The National Front today is a far cry from a rebellious band that included Nazi sympathisers, fundamentalist Catholics and left-wing workers that her father Jean-Marie Le Pen founded in 1972, according to author Laszlo Liszkai, author of 'Marine Le Pen, A New National Front'.
She took over the National Front's leadership in 2011, and expelled her father from the party in 2015, after he repeated an anti-Semitic slur in a radio interview, saying the gas chambers were a "detail of history".
Over the years, Marine Le Pen abandoned the combative rhetoric of Jean-Marie Le Pen and capitalised on the economic malaise blamed on globalization and the influx of migrant workers with its anti-EU, anti-immigrant and anti-establishment message.
She advocates leaving the euro zone and re-establishing the French franc currency, and has recalibrated her message recently to accommodate voters who are doubtful about French version of the Brexit, when Great Britain opted in a referendum to leave the European Union.
In the 2012 presidential elections, she came third in the first round, garnering 17.9 percent of votes.
The 48-year-old lawyer, the youngest of Jean-Marie Le Pen's three daughters, has served as municipal councilor, regional councilor, and as member of the European Parliament.
Marine Le Pen's campaign advertisement during this election features her by the sea, and some clips show her with cats or sailing, a contrast from her images in Labour Day rallies with her father and other family members.
She has even dropped the name Front National from many campaign paraphernalia, going instead with her name, over a logo of a rose.
Le Pen is running neck-and-neck with centrist independent candidate Emmanuel Macron for the April 23 first round, according to opinion polls, which also project that Macron would easily beat Le Pen in the May 7 runoff.
A survey last March found that 58 percent of French people think the Front National is dangerous for democracy, which remains high but is a big improvement from roughly 80 percent who held the view during the 1980s.
An Opinionway poll on Tuesday (April 14) found that Macron would Le Pen would beat Le Pen, 62 percent to 38 percent in the second round.
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