Marine Le Pen is the current President of the National Front (FN) party. She won the leadership of her party in 2011, succeeding her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, to become the party’s second president since its creation in 1972. Le Pen first joined the FN party in 1986 at the age of 18.
Le Pen announced her candidacy for the 2017 presidential race in April 2016. Her platform is perhaps best known for far-right and nationalist views, especially concerning social issues. Le Pen proposes stricter policies on both legal and illegal immigration, including reinstating customs controls along the country’s borders and withdrawing France from the Schengen Area.
She has denounced public displays of Islam such as praying in the street or wearing a “burkini” on France’s beaches, however states that her issue is with fundamentalism and not the religion itself. With regards to the economy, Le Pen proposes a protectionist approach to trade and follows the views of French economist Maurice Allais, who was skeptical of free trade and a single currency in Europe.
Le Pen won her first political position in 1998 when she was elected as a regional councilor in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a role she continues to occupy. She came third in the 2012 presidential race, gaining 18% of the vote, behind Nicolas Sarkozy, who went on to win, and current president François Hollande. Le Pen has also been a Member of European Parliament since 2004. Within the party, she joined the FN Executive Committee in 2000 and became Vice President of the FN in 2003.
Le Pen studied Law and earned a Masters of Advanced Studies in Criminal Law. She then worked as an attorney in Paris for six years (1992-1998) and, despite her hard stance on immigration, part of her legal practice involved defending illegal immigrants.
She and her father have not always seen eye-to-eye, including on his infamous statement calling the Holocaust a “detail” of WWII, while his daughter denounced it as the “height of barbarism”. Le Pen is also in favor of the right to civil unions for same-sex couples, whereas her father’s FN was opposed to any legal recognition of same-sex relationships.