French far-right politician Marine Le Pen believes that global Islamic terrorism is the greatest threat to the world. She also said it was not Russia, but the threat of a rising Chinese power that needed to be addressed.
Interestingly, Le Pen’s foreign policy concerns seem to align somewhat with those of the current Indian government.
In an interview with Nikkei Asia, Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally who hopes to replace incumbent President Emmanuel Macron in next year’s elections, expressed support for France’s anti-China stance.
Although it is not officially part of the QUAD (France is not an Indo-Pacific power), France has conducted several joint military exercises with its members.
On May 11, France joined Japan, the United States and Australia in and around Kyushu in Japan for a week-long air, land and sea exercise called Arc-21. China called the exercises wasteful and without impact.
India and France have a “special relationship”, according to Sunjoy Joshi, director of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). They have strategic and military ties that have led India to acquire 14 Dassault Rafale multirole combat aircraft.
As India-France relations flourished, relations between France and China deteriorated. Last year, in June, Macron openly opposed new security laws in Hong Kong that violated the city’s autonomy.
Within the framework of the European Union, France in March sanctioned certain Chinese officials for human rights violations in Xinjiang in China.
Le Pen is not the only French politician to openly oppose China. Last week, in a 304-0 vote, the French Senate backed Taiwan’s bid to join the World Health Organization.
According to a poll released by the Pew Research Center in October last year, around 70% of the French population had an unfavorable view of China. In the presidential election of spring 2022, an anti-Chinese vision will not be a matter of division.
Russia and Islamic terrorism
While there is a multi-party consensus on China, French politicians diverge on France’s stance on the recent Russian military build-up near its border with Ukraine, setting off alarms of a possible invasion.
Macron said last month that the international community must move away from a “naïve approach” and draw “clear red lines” with Russia, which includes implementing sanctions after any “unacceptable behavior”. He also said that “the sanctions are not enough in themselves, but the sanctions are part of the package”.
On the other hand, Le Pen is not a fan of international actions or sanctions. Although she has softened her opinion of the EU, she is skeptical of NATO, an alliance that was originally formed to oppose Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union.
Criticizing the domination of the United States within the organization, Le Pen declared that “Russia is not a danger which justifies the mobilization of such a structure”.
His approach to Russia could work in India’s favor if it comes to power. Russia is one of the few topics India and the United States have clashed over. While India maintains its neutrality by maintaining good relations with Russia and the United States, the latter are wary of India’s military purchases from Russia.
Le Pen has also been a vocal critic of Islamic terrorism, which she calls “unquestionably the global danger”. India has also been the target of numerous Islamic terrorist attacks and the government has justified the removal of Article 370 in August 2019 and the subsequent lockdown in Kashmir as necessary actions to combat Islamic terrorism.
Le Pen’s political journey
Daughter of party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine Le Pen joined the National Front in 1986. The National Front was filled with racism, ranging from Holocaust denial to blatant Islamophobia.
Called the “Devil of the Republic”, Jean-Marie Le Pen sadly declared in 1987 that he does not believe that many people were killed by the Nazis in the gas chambers, a statement for which he has been translated into justice.
Became leader of the party in 2011, Marine Le Pen tried to soften the image of the party. In 2015, she fired her father from the party after repeating her view that the Holocaust was “a detail of history.”
Marine Le Pen has revised the party’s image from that of a neo-Nazi to a respectable conservative stance. It renamed the Rassemblement National party in June 2018, losing its confrontational image and projecting it as a willingly allied organization to other right-wing parties.
It can be seen as capitalizing on the rise of nationalism sweeping through most Western countries, as evidenced by the election of leaders such as Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Viktor Orbán, etc.
To expand her vote bank, she relaxed the party’s approach to gay rights, feminism and the death penalty. His methods appear to be effective. While she finished third in the 2012 presidential elections with 17.9% of the vote in the first round, she came second with 33.9% in the second round in 2017.
In a Le Monde poll published last month, Le Pen got 43% against 57% for Macron. While Macron appears to be in the lead, he has also changed his policy to the right in the face of competition and growing challenges.
After a teacher was beheaded for showing a cartoon of the Prophet in October last year, Macron stepped up his crackdown on radical Islam by imposing controls on mosques and cultural groups. The move angered some Islamic countries, including Pakistan, where a radical Islamist group recently staged violent protests to demand the removal of the French ambassador, among other demands.