The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen faces three years imprisonment and a possibly €75,000 ($90,000) fine over tweets she shared four years ago showing ISIS atrocities.
The 50-year-old former presidential candidate, President of the National Rally political party (previously named National Front), is being prosecuted for distributing violent images, few weeks after the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, where 130 people were killed, according to reports.
She was charged last Thursday following her 2015 tweets that showed executions by IS extremists, including the killing of American reporter James Foley. The charges pose a slap on the French parliament whose party is still in crisis after losing to President Emmanuel Macron in 2015. Last year, she faulted a court judgment which ordered a psychiatric test in what appears to be part of a broader investigation into her tweets. She described the ongoing investigation as being politically persecuted.
Beyond the anti-ISIS tweets, Le Pen is also under a formal investigation over her alleged misuse of European Parliament funds while she was an MEP. Investigators are examining claims that 5 million euros ($4.4m) of parliamentary funding went to National Front assistants not working for MEPs but instead working on party business in France.
From the emergence of Emmanuel Macron as the French president, France’s political landscape appears to be favoring Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (National Rally) Party. According to open democracy report on growing threat of the radical right in French politics in 2019, the think-tank group said the French politics is volatile, and President Macron has done little to dispel the disparate political movement (made up of both radical left and radical right activists alike) and the momentum has continued well into 2019.
The independent global media platform said President Macron’s approval ratings have also declined considerably and “are now only second to his Socialist predecessor François Hollande in terms of being the worst of any French President in the twenty-first century.”
The low approval ratings for Macron poses a severe cause for concern and the inevitable rising star of Le Pen ahead of the upcoming 2019 European Parliament elections in May.
Protest politics in the form of partisan dealignment and the fragmentation of both parties and voters have continued in 2019. Traditional party politics in France are also extremely divided, with mainstream political parties on the center-left (namely the incumbent Socialist Party, PS) seeing a significant electoral decline the 2017 legislative election and still now only polling in single digits.
Last month, Le Pen, blamed the EU over BREXIT negotiations, saying it makes Britain suffer a great deal. She said the failure to produce a far-reaching agreement which will allow the UK to leave towards the end of March 2019 is anti-democratic. Len Pen who also one of the proponents of FREXIT, supporting France to leave the EU in 2017 before ditching the idea.
Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen founded the National Front party which she has since renamed National Rally. Some members of her party are also being probed in Brussels in an allegation over the European Union parliament fund between 2009 and 2017. She has, however, insisted she and the party are innocent and portrayed the case as politically motivated.
Her party, National Rally, is in close rank with Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party in the European parliamentary elections scheduled to hold May 23 to 26.