French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen named the defeated first-round candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan as her prime minister if she is elected president, in a bid to attract his voters and help her beat favourite Emmanuel Macron.
The 56-year-old Dupont-Aignan and his party Debout la France (‘Stand up France’) secured 4.7 percent (1.7 million ) in the first round of the presidential elections on April 23, coming in sixth out of the original 11 candidates.
Dupont-Aignan calls himself a “Gaullist” – after France’s wartime leader General Charles de Gaulle – a term that is meant to evoke sovereignty, patriotism and economic independence. Essentially, his party is an offshoot of the conservative mainstream right.
The former candidate strongly favours France leaving the European Union and the Eurozone; even going so far as to support Britain’s divorce from the European Union.
“The French understand that the stakes in this election are to re-orient Europe” away from globalisation, said Dupont-Aignan during a televised debate on April 4.
About face on the far-right
Dupont-Aignan is less hardline than Le Pen in some areas such as reintroduction of the death penalty. Furthermore, in 2013 he said on Twitter that his party “cannot align ourselves with the extreme right”.
However, he has hardened his position on immigration since then.
Dupont-Aignan said he had signed an agreement on a future government with Le Pen that took into account some “modifications” of her programme. However, a copy of an alliance document put on social media by a TV journalist included no significant policy changes.
Since 1995, he has been the mayor of Yerres, a city of about 29,000 located 18 kilometers to the south of Paris. He has also been MP for the Essonne region since 1997.
Dupont-Aignan was previously a member of the UMP party (the predecessor to Les Républicains), but left in 2007 due to disagreements with then party leader, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Dupont-Aignan ran for president as a euro-skeptic before, garnering just 1.8% in the first round of voting in 2012.
Alliance against Le Pen dead?
This new alliance has however raised concerns. Many had hoped that mainstream politicians – on both the left and right — would unite against Le Pen’s far-right in the run-off.
Polls show Macron winning next Sunday with about 59-60 percent, but the momentum has been with Le Pen, who has clawed back about five percentage points over the past week.
Centrist Macron, on a campaign trip in central France said on Saturday the alliance between Dupont-Aignan and Le Pen clarified the choice on offer to voters.