French right parties clash for voters: Maréchal appeals to Bardella

In the rapidly evolving landscape of French far-right politics, the union of Marion Maréchal and Éric Zemmour under the Reconquest banner for the upcoming European elections signifies a strategic yet fraught attempt to consolidate their influence. 

Maréchal, the niece of Marine Le Pen and a former figure in her aunt’s National Rally (RN), has teamed up with Zemmour, a right-wing polemicist and admirer of Putin, after a brief endeavor to establish her political party.

Zemmour, who captured 7% in the 2022 presidential elections, aligns with Maréchal in seeking to rejuvenate their political fortunes amidst dwindling voter support, which is currently hovering around 5-6%.

Maréchal’s desperate move

Maréchal’s apparent reluctance to aggressively confront her former allies in the RN has raised significant stakes for her. This hesitance came to light when she publicly appealed to her competitor, Jordan Bardella—who is dating another of Le Pen’s nieces and is a leading figure in the RN—to avoid mutual attacks and instead consider a future coalition.

This move was part of a broader strategic reevaluation within Reconquest as they grappled with a strategy that has so far failed to significantly dent the RN’s voter base.

Sarah Knafo, Zemmour’s advisor and companion, recently escalated the campaign rhetoric. Positioned third on the Reconquest list, Knafo’s entry is seen as a move to intensify the campaign’s tone against the RN. In a notable interview with Le Figaro, she labeled Bardella a “prestidigitator,” accusing him of falsely promising the ousting of President Macron, thereby marking a shift towards a more confrontational approach.

A blend of far-right ideologies 

The dynamic between Maréchal and Zemmour illustrates a blend of old and new far-right ideologies. Maréchal seeks to tap into the original National Front’s legacy by visiting significant historical sites like Jeanne d’Arc’s village, symbolizing a continuation of the traditionalist line. In contrast, Zemmour embodies a figure akin to the RPR’s past leaders, suggesting a fusion of far-right tendencies with Gaullist elements.

The duo aims to present a united front as the campaign progresses, despite Zemmour’s occasional absence from key events, signaling possible strategic divergences or a division of campaign roles. Their upcoming joint appearance in Madrid at a far-right Vox Party event underscores their attempt to solidify their position on the European stage.

This alliance, however, faces significant challenges. Not only must they contend with internal consistency and the shaping of a coherent anti-RN stance, but they also need to address the potential erosion of their base to the RN, which remains a dominant force under Bardella and Marine Le Pen.

With the European elections looming, both Zemmour and Maréchal are acutely aware that their political futures hinge on their ability to redefine and assert their positions within the volatile arena of French far-right politics.

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