France’s far-right National Front will start its annual party congress today, seeking to refocus the 45-year-old group and broaden its appeal. Still recovering from a disastrous loss in last year’s presidential elections, party leader Marine Le Pen is expected to unveil a new party name and a less eurosceptic platform.
With a strong focus on immigration and national security, the National Front’s new platform is expected to pivot to less extreme views on the EU, particularly regarding the Euro. However, it is expected to retain its hardline nativist views on immigration.
After capturing 33% of the national vote last year, the shift also comes as most right-wing European parties have watered down their own contentious views against the Euro, which has proved a turnoff for most voters. Despite its loss last year, the party remains a force in European politics, with candidates winning seats in major French municipalities and cities, and Le Pen herself holding a seat in the European Parliament.
While Le Pen’s aspirations to broaden party appeal in the short-term appear legitimate, doubts remain among the party base about whether she is the appropriate leader to conduct the shift.
Delve deeper: 2018 Geopolitical Forecast: Europe
Kai looks at security and political turbulence in the emerging market economies and also serves as a publisher with The Daily Brief.