“Let the euro die its natural death,” said Marine Le Pen, president of the Front National (FN) and one of the top contenders in the 2012 presidential election. And she is not some marginal wing nut: In a Harris Interactive Poll in March, she stunned the cozy French political establishment by obliterating current President Nicolas Sarkozy and his top opponent on the left, Martine Aubry. In that poll, which measured the likelihood of success during the first round of the election, Le Pen received 23%, while Sarkozy and Aubry each received 21%, with the remaining candidates far behind.
Her success is based in part on her strategy to make the FN more modern and moderate by distancing herself from the rightwing rhetoric, indefensible statements, and biting irony of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the FN. And her wit, charming smile, and razor-sharp mind have done very well on TV.
While her numbers have dropped a bit in recent polls, she has become a formidable and highly media-savvy figure that has already had a huge impact on the election by forcing Sarkozy to defend himself against the specter of a serious attack from the right, which he has done by swerving sharply in that direction.
Even if she doesn’t win the 2012 presidential election, “Let the euro die its natural death” is a statement of major significance. Already, the euro is out of favor with the French lower middle-class who blame it for rising prices, low wages, loss in purchasing power, and a host of other issues. And her statement will only enhance her populist appeal.
She also said during the interview with France Info that allowing the euro to die would reassure the markets and restart the economy. To get out of the economic quagmire, the repetitive bailouts would have to stop. First it was Greece, then Cyprus, now Italy and Spain. The euro is being drip-fed, she said, and she wants to prepare for its end, otherwise “we will find ourselves in a dramatic situation that will harm several generations.