French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has proposed a ban on the Muslim headscarf in all public places, seeking to build on a recent record-breaking poll putting her almost neck and neck with President Emmanuel Macron.
The hijab policy, which would be challenged in court and almost certainly ruled unconstitutional, saw the 53-year-old revert to a familiar campaign theme 15 months into the country’s 2022 presidential election.
“I consider the headscarf to be Islamist clothing,” Le Pen told reporters at a press conference on Friday, where she proposed a new law to ban “Islamist ideologies” which she called “totalitarian and murderous ”.
Since taking over from her father, France’s main far-right party, Le Pen has run for the French presidency twice, losing badly in 2017 to political newcomer Macron in a defeat which she has claimed. months to recover.
But a recent poll shows her closer than ever to her ultimate price tag and has led to a wave of new speculation over whether the anti-EU and anti-immigration populist could finally enter the Elysee Palace.
Despite recent setbacks by fellow ideologists such as Donald Trump and Matteo Salvini in Italy, an investigation earlier this week showed him within striking distance of Macron.
The Harris Interactive online poll suggested that if a final presidential ballot takes place today, Le Pen would win 48% while Macron would be re-elected with 52%, Le Parisien newspaper reported.
“It’s a poll, it’s a snapshot of a moment, but what it shows is that the idea of my victory is believable, plausible even,” Le Pen said at the conference. hurry.
The prospect of a close race has raised alarm in the French political stream as the dual health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the country.
“It is the highest it has ever been,” said Jean-Yves Camus, a French political scientist specializing in the far right, adding that it was “too early to take the polls literally” .
He said Le Pen was benefiting from the frustration and anger over the pandemic, with France on the brink of a third lockdown, but also the beheading of a French teacher last October.
“It had a major impact on public opinion,” Camus said. “And in this area, Marine Le Pen has an advantage: her party is well known for its position of denouncing Islamism.
Islam in France
The beheading of Samuel Paty in a town northwest of Paris has rekindled bitter disputes in France over immigration, while bringing the country’s strict form of secularism under international control.
The high school teacher was attacked in the street by an 18-year-old after showing satirical caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to students during a civics class on free speech.
In response to Paty’s death, Macron’s government shut down a number of organizations deemed Islamist and drafted a law initially called the “Anti-Separatism Bill,” which clamps down on foreign funding of Islamic organizations.
Reelected after a campaign that should focus on jobs, the pandemic and the place of Islam in France, Macron, 43, would be the first president since Jacques Chirac in 2002 to win a second term.
Under the presidential system, the two best candidates in the first round of voting progress to a second round where the winner must obtain more than 50%.
A victory at Le Pen “was unlikely three and a half years ago,” veteran political commentator Alain Duhamel told BFM news channel this week.
“But today, I wouldn’t say it’s probable but I would say, without any pleasure, that it seems possible to me.
A replay of the 2017 Macron-Le Pen contest, which all polls currently show as the most likely outcome, could increase the abstention rate and disillusionment with the French political system.
The turnout for the second round in 2017 was 74.6%, its lowest level since 1969, as many left-wing voters refused to vote.