A viral video is helping to cement Marion Maréchal-Le Pen as the new star of the far-right party her grandfather Jean-Marie founded four decades ago.
On Tuesday, during France’s version of Prime Minister’s Questions, Marion, who three years ago became the youngest representative ever elected to the National Assembly, accused French Prime Minister Manuel Valls of being a hypocrite after he criticized the FN. The clip already has already racked up nearly 100,000 views in less than 24 hours.
“You have robbed the French,” the 25-year-old said, referring to the revelation of a Swiss bank account that forced Socialist President Francois Hollande’s budget minister to resign. “You’re supposed to be the prime minister of all French people.”
France’s far-right National Front (FN) party has been in the ascendancy ever since its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, clinched a runoff with incumbent president Jacques Chirac on a staunchly nationalist and isolationist platform.
The election of Nicolas Sarkozy, a center-right candidate, five years later stunted the FN’s growth for a time. But it roared back in 2012, when Le Pen’s daughter, Marine, garnered nearly 18 percent of presidential votes, the most ever for a FN candidate.
And now comes Marion, whom Le Monde declared the “It Girl” of the National Front party. This fall, she finished first in an election deciding the National Front’s central governing body.
“She’s young, pretty — and most importantly has the last name needed to stay in the family business…and move up the ranks of management,” Le Monde said.
Her views do not wander far from those of certain relatives.
In a 2012 interview, she said that if gay marriage should be legalized, so should polygamy. A year later, she demonstrated against the country’s “Marriage For All” bill, saying she was “fighting for the family.” (The measure was ultimately approved.)
Notably, Marine Le Pen did not attend the rally.
On immigration, Marion shares the views of her grandfather, calling him a “visionary.” She once criticized a French cabinet member’s decision to name her child “Zohra,” saying it was a sign she opposed assimilation.
“I have friends who have immigrant origins, not only European but from beyond,” she said. “I see them arrive on our soil, have children on our soil and give them French names. It’s the most beautiful sign of love and assimilation you can give to a country.”
This has come even as the FN, under Marine, has tried to engage in a strategy of “detoxification” by staying away from social issues and emphasizing how her party can address France’s economic woes and take on big banks.
French commentator Thomas Le Grand recently wrote that Marion’s close connection to her grandfather puts her at odds with her aunt — and that the latter might be ceding ground.
“The political struggle that’s emerging between Marine Le Pen at Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (who is a throwback to the classic forms of the extreme right) proves that Marine Le Pen hasn’t finished with her party’s demons,” he said. “Strangely — and in a sign of the times — these old demons, which could prove [Marine’s] glass ceiling, are being revived by the generation that’s come after her.”
Some have warned of a general “Le Pen-isation” of the minds of France’s conservatives. France has regional elections coming up later this month, and a recent poll showed a plurality of voters leaning FN.
In response to Marion’s remarks Tuesday, Valls said “I don’t want my country to wake up with a hangover” by voting for FN candidates.
“There are dozens of your candidates who profess anti-semitism, racist, homophobic, sexist,” he said. “You represent neither the Republic, nor France.”
Valls received a standing ovation. But Marion couldn’t stop smirking.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.