President of the National Front party Marine Le Pen formally launched her presidential campaign, promising to put France first by freeing it from the “tyrannies” of globalisation, Islamic fundamentalism and the European Union, media reports said.
“What is at stake in this election is the continuity of France as a free nation, our existence as a people,” Le Pen was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
“The French have been dispossessed of their patriotism. They are suffering in silence from not being allowed to love their country. The divide is no longer between the left and the right, but between the patriots and the globalists,” the leader, daughter of the Front National founder Jean-Marie, added.
Le Pen and far-left independent rival Jean-Luc Melenchon, both staged major rallies in the French city of Lyon on Sunday — a day after the new frontrunner, centrist Emmanuel Macron, drew large crowds in the same city.
The election has been thrown open since allegations that the longstanding centre-right favourite, François Fillon, paid his wife and children from the public’s money for parliamentary assistance jobs that investigators suspect she did not do.
Le Pen said the momentum was clearly now on her side. From the US to Italy and Austria to Britain, she said: “The people are waking. The tide of history has turned.”