Before a crowd of some 2,000 supporters and activists in Paris, Le Pen also used the occasion to motivate party members and supporters to get out and vote for its candidates
Getting into the venue at La Mutalité in the east of Paris was somewhat of a challenge with many of those in the queue to get in complaining about the lack of organisation outside.
But to break-up the wait, people broke into a spontaneous round of the French anthem La Marseillaise.
'Marine for President'.
One man, among a sea of hundreds, was sporting a button that read ‘Marine for President’. William Chassarb told RFI he has been a long-time member of the party, going back to its foundation in 1972 when it was le Front National and led by Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
“I am for the equality of the people” Chassarb told RFI, who was seated second row centre at the convention. “I really hope Marine is elected into power. I believe in her and I believe in the party, even if I’m not a fan of hers. One could say I’m a servant of Marine Le Pen.”
National Rally European Elections initial candidate list
- Jordan Bardella
- Hélène Laporte
- Theirry Mariani
- Dominique Bilde
- Hervé Juvin
- Joelle Melin
- Nicolas Bay
- Virginie Joron
- Jean-Paul Garraud
- Catherine Griset
- Gilles Lebreton
- Christiane Delannay-Clara
Growing numbers of young people
Chassarb also remarked on how the party has managed to gather a large number of young people under its umbrella, adding the RN is in the midst of transforming and progressing.
Dotted throughout the audience of nearly 2000 people there was, indeed, a large number young people. On a Sunday afternoon they too took the time to come out and give their support to this often controversial party that has a history of making inflammatory remarks.
Two young women - Julie and Coline - were spotted near the stage and mingling with the other older members. They identified themselves as members of the youth movement, Génération Nation, the successor to the original Front National de la Jeunesse, the National Front Youth, which emerged in 1973 following the creation of the main Front National party.
“It’s been some time that the RN has been attracting quite a lot of young people because it’s a movement that defends a future for our country. [This future] will bloom in comparison to what is being proposed to us today” says Julie. Coline adds that the movement really started to attract more young people when Marine took over in 2011.
When it comes to immigration, the youth also have strong ideas on that. “We must stop the massive wave of immigration that is going on today because the flow of immigration is felt every day – in our security, in the terrorism that we have suffered from over past three or four years, and in our daily lives whether it be in the countryside, in the city or the suburbs” explains Julie.
“We have to stop this immigration today. We can no longer allow these type of immigrants. These people create disruption - people who come here who cannot live or work here. They would do better to stay where they came from” adds Julie.
Ahead in the polls
In the lead-up to May’s European parliament elections, the RN is ahead of Macron’s party, La République En Marche (Republic on the Move) with 24 percent of the stated voting intentions, according to a recent poll..
The RN is the “only credible opposition to Macron” says Nicolas Bay, co-president of the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group, MEP, and a RN member. Bay said Macron has been defending a political programme that has only caused suffering among the French.
While recent polls are “promising” says Bay, “We will try to remain with humility, in keeping with what the people expect of us because we are living an important political crisis.”
Ahead of Le Pen’s arrival on stage, five other members graced the limelight, each talking about the current state of the world and how the RN can improve on it.
8 takeaways from National Rally leader Marine Le Pen's speech
Marine Le Pen
- Her entrance was preceded by music prelude and a photo collage of her highlights over the years
- As she entered the stage, many cried out “Macron demission!” (Macron to resign) in English
- Her speech outlined what she were the failings of Macron
- She argued that since Macron can’t do anything, the European elections needs to drive it.
- She describes to the RN as a “defender for the European people”
- She spoke about a Europe that “prioritizes its people and Europe itself”
- She added that the EU is not for France, but the French people themselves “are France”
- She then officially introduced the top 12 candidates, amongst a total of 69, who will be representing the RN at the European elections