On pensions, the double game strategy of the National Rally
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Opposing the pension reform with lip service while appearing as the party of order to better discredit the Nupes, this is the double game led by the National Rally since the beginning of the year and of which Marine Le Pen hopes to reap the rewards at the ballot box.
Tenth day of mobilization against the pension reform, Tuesday March 28. General information fears new overflows, similar to those of March 23, the day on which the Lorient police station and the porch of the Bordeaux city hall burned down. Acts that Marine Le Pen and the National Rally (RN) did not fail to condemn, while accusing Emmanuel Macron, his government and his majority of writing the script on purpose.
However, as during the nine previous days of mobilization, neither Marine Le Pen, nor Jordan Bardella, nor Laure Lavalette, nor Sébastien Chenu, nor any notable figure of the National Rally will be present Tuesday in the processions. Because the strategy of the RN is a double game: to oppose the pension reform with lip service while appearing as the party of order in the eyes of the French.
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“The National Rally has perfectly understood that by remaining moderate in its communication, that was enough to reap the profits”, analyzes Sylvain Crépon, lecturer at the University of Tours, specialist in the French far right. “It is a strategy of contrast vis-à-vis the Nupes, which led the charge in the National Assembly against the government and whose excesses have been criticized. The RN aims to appear as a responsible party while s ‘opponent of reform.
This is how, after having long called for a referendum on pension reform, Marine Le Pen called for the dissolution of the National Assembly after the use of 49.3 and the rejection of motions of censure. Emmanuel Macron “chosen to give a second slap to the French people by saying: ‘Listen, here it is, everything that has happened will result in nothing. Nothing. Neither dissolution, nor reorganization, nor withdrawal of the law, nothing, we will continue as if nothing had happened”, she lambasted on March 21 in an interview with AFP.
Marine Le Pen opposed to blockages
But alongside this very critical speech vis-à-vis the executive, Marine Le Pen does not call for a strike, does not participate in demonstrations and condemns the blockages. “From the moment the strikes [des éboueurs] lead to health difficulties for the French population, I think that the Minister of the Interior must intervene so that there are no health difficulties. It is not possible. On refineries, it’s the same. Blockages should not be allowed. The strike is constitutional, the blocking is not. I am for the respect of the law, I tell them to express their disagreement by respecting the law”, she affirmed on March 20 on BFMTV.
The strategy of the Rassemblement national dans la rue is in all respects similar to that employed in the National Assembly during the debates on pension reform and, more broadly, since the start of the legislature in the summer of 2022. With the filing of only some 200 amendments, the 88 RN deputies appeared in the background of the debates which raged in the hemicycle. Even the majority, with nearly 600 amendments, wanted to modify the text of the government more than the elected representatives of the far right.
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“Remaining calm, while letting the rebellious deputies multiply the excesses, this gives the RN a kind of managerial legitimacy without even having to advance positions, underlines Sylvain Crépon. All that remained, for Marine Le Pen, was to criticize the obstruction of insubordinate France while benefiting from it.”
Because it was obviously in the interest of the National Rally to be able to regret the absence of a vote on the reform and, in particular, on the famous article 7 which pushes back the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years. In this way, far-right deputies were able to appear as elected representatives attached to democracy and respect for national representation.
The National Rally well supported by the majority
This strategy is obviously paying off. The leaders of the RN now appear “credible” when they speak on the subject of pensions for 40% of French people, the best score for a political formation, according to a Harris Interactive poll for Challenges published on March 22.
The National Rally also benefits from the choices of the majority who, too busy wanting to discredit the Nupes, contributes to continuing the normalization of the party founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen. This is how the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, judged, in Le Monde, Marine Le Pen “much more republican” than the elected representatives of Nupes after the latter gave him its support when the deputy LFI Aurélien Saintoul called him a “murderer”.
Similarly, when the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, accuses the left of wanting to “messy” the National Assembly or that the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, believes that La France insoumise wishes to “delegitimize” the institutions, c It is the RN that benefits by appearing as the party of order.
Result: the polls indicate that the National Rally is the political force that benefits the most from the political and social crisis. The latest is quite telling: if early legislative elections were to be held, Marine Le Pen’s candidates would come out on top with 26% of the vote, according to an Ifop poll published on March 26 in the Journal du Dimanche – i.e. a jump of seven points compared to the first round of the legislative elections of June 12, 2022, when the candidates of the Nupes would only progress by one point (26%) and that those of the presidential majority would lose five (22%).
“The real alternation is the National Rally. After Emmanuel Macron, it will be us!”, Marine Le Pen has been repeating for several weeks.