Who is Marine Le Pen?
Marion Anne Perrine "Marine" Le Pen is a French lawyer and politician who served as the leader of the National Front (FN) from 2011 to 2017. The daughter of long-time FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, she was intuitively drawn to politics from a young age. Her father is a major—and controversial—figure in French politics, and being his daughter proved to be both a boon and a bane for the ambitious lady. Bright and hardworking from her school days, she studied law at Panthéon-Assas University, eventually earning a master’s degree and a Master of Advanced Studies (DEA) in criminal law. She embarked on a highly successful legal career and practiced as a lawyer for several years. Meanwhile, she also became involved in politics and joined FN. Working alongside her father, she rose through the ranks pretty quickly and eventually became one of the two executive vice-presidents of the FN. Her rising stature within the party ensured her election as the party president in 2011. Aiming to become the president of France, she stood in the 2012 French presidential election. Though she did not win, her participation in the national election further strengthened the position of her party. In April 2016, Marine Le Pen announced her candidacy for the 2017 French presidential election.
Childhood & Early Life
Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen was born on 5 August 1968 in Neuilly-sur-Seine as the youngest daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and his first wife Pierrette Lalanne. She has two sisters. Her father is an influential politician and a former paratrooper, and also a convicted racist.
Her childhood was not a normal one. Her parents hardly spent time with the girls who were more often than not, left in the care of their nannies. Her house was frequented by extremist political figures, and even as a small child she understood that her family was somehow different from the others.
A traumatic incident happened in 1976 when Marine was eight. Someone planted a bomb outside their house which exploded in the middle of the night and ripped a hole into the outside wall of the building. Even though no one was killed in the explosion, the incident scarred the young girl emotionally.
Despite her less-than-perfect family life, Marine excelled as a student. She first studied at the Lycée Florent Schmitt at Saint-Cloud before studying law at Panthéon-Assas University, graduating with a Master of Laws in 1991.
She proceeded to earn a Master of Advanced Studies (DEA) in criminal law in 1992. The same year, she also received the certificate as a lawyer (CAPA).
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After being registered at the Paris bar association in 1992, Marine Le Pen began practicing as a lawyer. Meanwhile she had also joined her father’s political party, National Front (FN).
With time she ventured deeper into politics and intensified her involvement with FN. She quit the Bar of Paris in 1998 and joined the FN's juridical branch, which she led until 2003. In 2000, she joined the FN Executive Committee (bureau politique).
Working alongside her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was the president of FN at that time, she steadily rose through the ranks in the party. She became vice-president of the FN in 2003.
In 2006, Jean-Marie Le Pen decided to run for the presidential election in 2007 and entrusted his daughter with the management of his 2007 presidential campaign. Thus she was made one of the two executive vice-presidents of the FN and placed in charge of training, communication and publicity. Even though her father was not successful in his endeavor, the campaign helped the party gain mainstream notice.
Marine Le Pen’s growing stature within FN made her a serious contender for the post of the president which her father planned to vacate soon. She stood for the internal election to succeed Jean-Marie Le Pen as National Front leader in 2011 and won easily.
As the leader of the FN, Marine Le Pen was selected to represent the party in the 2012 presidential election against incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist candidate François Hollande. While she was unable to reach the second round, the election result did represent the best-ever showing for the National Front in a presidential election.
Over the ensuing years, she strengthened the position of FN in the national political scenario and eventually began detaching herself from her father’s often controversial stances on certain sensitive issues. Having successfully emerged from the shadows of her domineering father, she went a step ahead and began to soften the party’s radical far-right image.
In April 2015, her father provoked a political crisis in the National Front by making controversial statements about World War II and on minorities in France. In the wake of this, Marine Le Pen had her father expelled him from the party he had founded forty years earlier, thus marginalizing him in the French political landscape.
In April 2016, she announced her candidacy for the 2017 French presidential election. A highly popular political figure in the national political scene, she consistently maintained high popularity in polling figures. She selected David Rachline, a young FN member of the Senate, to be her campaign manager. In order to focus on her election campaign and to unite voters, she temporarily stepped down as the leader of the National Front in April 2017.
Marine Le Pen was elected as the President of FN in 2011, thus succeeding her father Jean-Marie Le Pen. In this position she sought to soften the xenophobic image of the party and transform it into a mainstream party. She worked hard to create a new image for FN and was considerably successful in her endeavor. Under her leadership, the party’s popularity increased and she was able to strengthen its position in the national political scenario.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1995, Marine Le Pen married Franck Chauffroy, a business executive who worked for the National Front. The couple had three children. The marriage, however, didn’t last long and ended in divorce in 2000.
Her second marriage in 2002 was to Eric Lorio, the former national secretary of the National Front. This union too ended in divorce.
She became involved in a relationship with Louis Aliot in 2009. Aliot is the vice president of the Front National since January 2011.