Toronto - With only five days of campaigning left before Sunday’s Presidential vote, National Front candidate, Marine Le Pen, is fending off accusations that she lifted segments from a speech delivered weeks ago by defeated rival, Francois Fillon.
Toronto – With only five days of campaigning left before Sunday’s Presidential vote, National Front candidate, Marine Le Pen, is fending off accusations that she lifted segments from a speech delivered weeks ago by defeated rival, Francois Fillon.
Perhaps smarting from Fillon’s decision to publicly back centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron over her, Le Pen echoed a word-for-word section of a mid-April speech authored and delivered by Fillon.
The content referred to people in Argentina and Poland learning French in the hopes of attending an Alliance Francaise school in France. Le Pen embellished the “borrowed” text by adding that France “must and can” become a great power again. Le Pen also borrowed the April 15th speech’s phrase “Italy, our sister.”
As with most trending topics on social media, this incident gained momentum fast and was soon the second-most trending topic on French Twitter.
Polls continue to show Le Pen straggling far behind Macron. The latest results showed the heavily favoured Macron at 61 percent and Le Pen trailing well back at 39 percent. That represents a nearly insurmountable amount of ground to recover in just five more days of campaigning.
Appearing under the hashtag #plagiat, the uproar has inspired nothing but defiance in Le Pens camp. National Front deputy leader, Francois Philippot, said only that the party “completely owned up” regarding any similarities with the Fillon speech.
Seeking to downplay the incident in an interview with Radio Classique, Philippot claimed that Le Pen was merely issuing a “nod-and-a-wink” to her former election rival, in order to “launch a real debate” about exactly what the French identity is.
So far there has been no reaction from Francois Fillon over the uproar. Analysts agree that any campaign misstep so close to Sunday’s vote could prove to be fatal for either candidate.
French voters still find themselves faced with a choice between an extremist, Le Pen, who wants to see Frexit become a reality and curtail immigration to France, and a centrist, Macron, who embraces immigration and wants to expand France’s influence in the EU.
Monday’s May Day marches proved that jobs are the number one concern facing French voters this election. Financial markets are paying particular attention to how the event plays out, seeing it as apopulist indicator.