French Elections Test Far-Right's Reach

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CNN wire image. Source: Kremlin.

UPDATE: Includes weekend election results. 

As the French election approaches, political observers see it as a test of just how far right-wing nationalists can reach across Europe.

Marine Le Pen, daughter of a far-right French politician, is one of two major candidates left in the campaign to lead the Republic of France. The head of France’s Front National party has support from gay men, reports the BBC.

"It is true that maybe her father was more reluctant, but a lot of people in the political party now are homosexual and she never says she finds it unnatural,” a gay Frenchman told the BBC.

Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was expelled from the National Front party for extreme views on immigration, sexual orientation and the holocaust. Opponents of Marine Le Pen often tie her to her father’s beliefs.

Le Pen faces Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European Union liberal, in the final round of the French election scheduled to conclude May 7. A Macron victory “would show that liberal, pro-European centrists may yet have a future in European politics,” Charles Grant, a European reformist, told the Guardian news agency.

Macron, 39, is France’s former minister of economy, finance and industry. Ron Gunzburger, a Fort Lauderdale resident who has lived in France, says Macron is “the only hope for those who believe in a united, strong Europe that adheres to Western values.”

Gunzburger runs Politics1.com, an influential political blog and was a member of SFGN’s Out 50 group in 2015. He said Macron must win to avoid Europe plunging into crisis. 

“For Europe, for France, for the U.S – for those who believe in France's spirit of liberté, égalité, fraternité - Macron needs to win,” Gunzburger said. 

Related: Gay Whispers Follow French Candidate 

As of Monday, Macron had collected 8,528,248 votes for 23.9 percent compared to 7,658,854 votes for Le Pen (21.4 percent) 7,126,277 for Francois Fillon (19.9 percent), a republican and 7,011,590 for Jean-Luc Melenchon (19.6 percent), a left-wing environmentalist. 

Le Pen’s showing is the strongest performance ever for France’s National Front party and continues a trend of nationalistic victories as seen in the United Kingdom with Brexit and the shock election of Donald J. Trump in the U.S.

The gay couple interviewed by the BBC in Paris’ Marais district did not think a Le Pen victory would change the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Jonathan Oriole, who was a field organizer for the Hillary Clinton campaign in Miami, disagrees.

“These guys are seriously delusional if they believe LaPen won't make good on her promise to repeal marriage equality. They might not be on the first train, but they are definitely on the list. We have our own example here of someone who TOLD us exactly what he wanted to do and now some of his supporters are shocked that he's doing what he said he would. Idiots,” Oriole posted on Facebook Thursday.


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