The man who could make Marine Le Pen president of France

The Long Read: Florian Philippot is the strategist behind the rebranding of the far right Front National as a populist, anti-elite crusade. But dont gaffe him for a moderate

On the night of the US election, Florian Philippot, the closest adviser to the French far-right lead Marine Le Pen, was watching the results from his apartment on the Left Bank in Paris. Before sunrise, when Donald Trumps victory is still not official but the liberal establishment was beginning to anxiety, he tweeted: Their world is disintegrating. Ours is being built.

Around 8am, Philippot phoned Le Pen to discuss the good news. She was in a exultant climate at the headquarters of her party the nationalist, anti-immigration Front National preparing to deliver a speech commending Trump. His succes, on predicts of trade protectionism and the closing of margins, looked like a major lift to her presidential campaign. Meanwhile, a car have come to take Philippot, the partys vice-president, to the village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, 250 km from Paris, to lay a crown at the tomb of Frances great postwar lead, General Charles de Gaulle.

Trumps victory happened to coincide with the commemoration of the deaths among de Gaulle, who led the French resistance against Nazi Germany. Philippot idolises de Gaulle: its term of office, which adjoins Le Pens, is plastered with de Gaulle memorabilia one of many things that sets him apart as an oddity in “states parties ” that have all along considered de Gaulle as a traitor for allowing the former French settlement of Algeria its independence.

Philippots nobility credentials should have been another strike against him within “states parties ” that exclaims its revulsion of the establishment. A alumnu of the exclusive Ecole Nationale dAdministration, which produces presidents and prime ministers, Philippot didnt start out in the Front National in the traditional path driving around the countryside lodging poll posters to fencings. Philippot is also homosexual, in “states parties ” whose co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen formerly called homosexuality a biological and social anomaly. And hitherto, at 35, he has become the articulation of the working party, its media virtuoso, and the first to assertion Trumps victory as a signaling of a new world order.

After the wreath-laying at de Gaulles tomb, Philippot hosted a dinner for 100 party workers and trade advocates in a nearby restaurant. At the conclusion of its dinner, with crumpled newspaper napkins strewn across the table, he told his clients that Trumps win have confirmed that the people were throwing off their chains. France would be next, he supposed, promising that Marine Le Pen would win the French general elections in May.

Everything that yesterday was said to be impossible or preposterous, be here today become highly possible and very probable, he supposed. The polls showed that even if Le Pen reached the final run-off, she could never win, but that didnt matter. Chants of Marine prsident! ring out around the area. Le Pen would move France great again, Philippot predicted, and everyone stood up to sing the Marseillaise.

If Le Pen is now the closest she has ever been to the French presidency, it is in big side down to her working partnership with Philippot, whose decision she relies so altogether that she rarely takes a decision without consulting him. They have an intellectual alliance; they are in complete agreement on basic principles, supposed Bertrand Dutheil de La Rochre, an adviser to Le Pen who is also close to Philippot.

It is Philippot who is credited with executing Le Pens plan to sanitise the Front Nationals image, tone down its rhetoric and widen its electoral subsistence expelling open shows of anti-semitism, racism and xenophobia, even if those old-time obsessions still foam away under the surface. Philippots single-minded mission to control the party line and root out objectors has led his competitors inside the party to liken him to Robespierre, the ruthless French revolutionary leader.

So zealous was Philippots drive to transform the partys image that he promoted Le Pen to expelled her parent, Jean-Marie Le Pen, from the working party he co-founded in 1972. If the outspoken, racist, Holocaust-denying 83 -year-old Papa Le Pen was a blight on the Front Nationals electoral prospects, Philippot styled himself as its saving. But as the Front National attempts to take the conference of presidents, the adulation, dread and debate that Philippot provokes have opened new rifts inside the party.

Florian Philippot offer homage at the tomb of his idol, Charles de Gaulle in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, in 2014. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/ AFP/ Getty Images

Since the Front Nationals modest commencements in the 1970 s when Jean-Marie Le Pen was chosen as the appearance of a fledgling nationalist party whose subsistence ranged from neo-fascist street-fighters to ex-members of the wartime collaborationist Vichy regime the organisation has been engaged in reiterated efforts to repackage itself and widen its appeal to voters. Philippot and Marine Le Pens bidto win power by shifting economically to the left and courting a disgruntled lower middle class is just the most recent of many rebranding practices. But within the Le Pen lineage, crannies are establishing. Le Pens niece, Marion Marchal-Le Pen, the partys 27 -year-old MP in the hard-right southern heartlands of the Vaucluse, is a devout Catholic and a fervent social conservative who believes that the party does not necessarily soften its message.

The challenge for Marine Le Pen is the delicate balance of broadening the Front Nationals plea without losing its core principles. The number 1 reason voters prefer the Front National is still its anti-immigration, anti-Islamisation word deterring France for the French. At Le Pens rallyings, one chant from advocates drowns out all others: On est chez nous ! This is our country!

Philippot congregated Marine Le Pen in May 2009 on Pariss far-right dinner-party circuit, where clients considered state sovereignty and identity politics over home-cooked food and fine wine. At the time, the Front National was mired in one of its sporadic crisis. It had haemorrhaged voters to the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2007, was so in debt that it was forced to sell its party headquarters, and was forecast to get only 6% of the vote in the European elections the following month. Marine Le Pen hoped to take over the Front National and transform it from her father-gods fringe objection vehicle into a group that could the working day win power. But in a diminished party still defined by its image of racism and xenophobia, she needed technocrats and programme wonks to develop her ideas.

Philippot was 28, studious and balk, the son of teaches from a quiet suburb of the northern city of Lille . A junior civil servant in the interior ministry, he belonged to the establishment despised by the far-right. He “ve never” voted Front National, but he says that from childhood, he had wet-nurse a feeling for French national sovereignty. His parents had encouraged an early infatuation with politics by taking him to watch electoral countings and to the childhood dwelling of General de Gaulle. Philippot likewise had a visceral revulsion of the European union. Aged 11, he burst into weepings when France voted for the Maastricht Treaty that paved the path for the creation of a single European currency. I was really young, but emotionally Id understood that our coins, francs, were going to disappear and I found that really sad. It was a little irrational and psychological, it wasnt very political, but I was interested in it. It was the first campaign I truly followed, he told me.

Leaving the eurozone and the European Union was an obsession. At the Ecole Nationale dAdministration, Philippot refused to do the customary internship at any of the European union foundations, answering: I consider them to be illegitimate and anti-democratic, and instead spent four months at the French embassy in Copenhagen. Colleagues said he flinched whenever he saw a European pennant piloting on a public built in France.

Earlier, as a student at Pariss top business school, HEC, he had backed the 2002 presidential campaign of Jean-Pierre Chevnement, the former Socialist minister who ran on an anti-EU ticket. Philippot has always denied he himself was ever leftwing. Ive never considered myself either of the left or for the human rights. I ever considered that schism dead with the end of the cold war, he told me. He caught sight of Marine Le Pen on a TV politics show in 2007, inveighing against the European union in the pugnacious mode she sharpened as a solicitor, forewarning the government to stop taking the people for clowns. Philippot agreed with everything she supposed. He had to meet her.

Philippot endeavoured out Paul-Marie Coteaux, a conservative MEP who had championed the sources of French supremacy and independence from Europe, and inserted himself at a book-signing. Before long, he was helping Coteaux with his website. Coteaux was well known that Marine Le Pen was looking for young talent, and invited them both to dinner.

Le Pen panicked someone with Philippots civil service background would make for a very dull dinner friend. But over veal and olive casserole at Coteauxs antique-stuffed left bank suite, she found him charming. Coteaux, who eventually fell out with both Le Pen and Philippot, described their meet as pure alchemy.Philippot had pored over Le Pens autobiography, gripped by her reports of how, when she was eight, her dwelling was hit with 20 kg of explosives intended to kill her parent, and how teaches at institution “ve called the” Le Pen girls daughters of a totalitarian. He told her: I admire what the hell are you do, Id like to be useful to you.

Things immediately gelled between us, both on a human level and politically, Philippot told me. She is very direct, theres no pretence. Le Pen described their meet as a kind of intellectual passion at first sight. Soon the latter are finishing one another sentences.

I think there was instantly a real ideological closeness between them, supposed Jean-Yves Le Gallou, a veteran far-right thinker and civil servant who had quit the Front National in the 1990 s and later is collaborating with Philippot at the interior ministry. Le Gallou was the only colleague Philippot told of his meeting with Le Pen and the only one who knew about his intense and secretive persona as her advisor for two years while he was still a civil servant. Apart from the fact that it was against the law for him to prevent his ministry profession and work for a registered political party, he had to consider the FNs toxic reputation.

Marine Le Pen described their meet as an intellectual passion at first sight. Soon the latter are finishing one another convicts. Photograph: Chesnot/ Getty Images

In 2009, the twice-divorced Marine Le Pen was living outside Paris, with her three children and several bengal “cat-o-nine-tails”, in a converted stable block on her father-gods property. The Front National had always been run as a family affair Jean Marie Le Pens three daughters grew up engulf in the working party, marriage men who were linked to the party, and worked for the working party. Marine, the youngest, most resembled her parent in searches and character. Her current romantic collaborator, Louis Aliot, is a senior party figure.

Into this tight-knit clan, Florian Philippot arrived as a somewhat clumsy foreigner ambitious and opinionated. He was a regular fixture at Marine Le Pens dwelling, invited to participate in night or weekend brainstorming discussions over tea and cake, or potions. He had a particular ability to write fast, in-depth information note and analysis, preparing what Le Pen would say in TV looks and debates. In person, Philippot has the manner of an intellectual attack-dog on guard, instinctively distrustful. Even when hes “re going through” the motions of politeness, he rarely tells his protect down. The only time he searches relaxed is when hes sitting next to Le Pen.

Marine Le Pen and Philippot set about reaping up a new party line for when she was ultimately take over from her parent. Jean-Marie Le Pen had caused a political shake in 2002, when he made it through to the second round of the French general elections. She recollected watching in dread as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in objection, and later voted for Jacques Chirac, in order to keep her parent out of office. She could see his corrects. She understood the is a requirement to distance herself from the antisemitism that have all along been been a feature of the Front National and knew how important it came to wreaking the working party in from the margins. Her parent hadnt wanted real power. She did.

For Marine Le Pen, the modeling lay in northern France. Aged 30, she had been elected as a regional councillor in Henin Beaumont, a depressed, former coal-mining township. She recognised that Frances northern industrial loop, which has all along been voted left, could turn to the Front National if the working party stood not only against in-migration, which remained its director selling point, but for the victims of deindustrialisation and the financial crisis. Thriving up in the north, albeit in a nice house near a golf course, Philippot likewise knew of the vast number of potential votes to be prevailed among the working and lower middle-class people with a profession, maybe a house, people who were afraid of losing what they had worked hard to achieve and of passing down the social scale.

Le Pen and Philippot drew up a programme designed focused on protectionism, a strong state, price control, retirement at 60 and had risen to payments and pensions. It was a manifesto that the Socialist president Franois Hollande would subsequently liken to a Communist tract of the 1970 s.

They moved no concedings on in-migration, but Le Pen changed the emphasis, focusing instead on what the working party worded the Islamisation of French society. They impeded the Front Nationals center dogma of giving preference to French citizens in positions, dwelling and welfare. But Le Pen and Philippot spurned the label extreme right and sought to repackage the working party as neither right nor left.

In a party that under Jean-Marie Le Pen had been all about gut intuition, Philippot inserted a new trust on data and statistics. He was well versed in voting directions: his older brother Damien worked for Ifop, one of Frances biggest pollsters.( When Damien eventually left his polling profession last year, it become apparent that he had been present behind the scenes of the Front National for years .)

Philippots ministry peer Jean-Yves Le Gallou remembers, that in 2010, at the start of Philippots working relationship with Le Pen, she likened Muslims praying in the street to the Nazi occupation. For this, Le Pen was tried for and cleared of fomenting religious hatred. I was very struck where reference is said to me at the time: My brother and I have told Marine: Dont start that again, or well quit, Le Gallou recollected. He did seem to exert a certain control over Marines language from that period.

In January 2011, when Le Pen eventually took over the leadership from her parent, Philippots role was not yet public. That spring, at a press breakfast on a barge on the Seine, Le Pen eventually pushed him into the limelight although under a false name establishing him to correspondents as the bright young provoke who had helped write the partys financial programme.

Jean-Marie Le Pens home in western Paris. His daughter, Marine, lived for a while in a converted stable block in the floors. Photograph: Matthieu Alexandre/ AFP/ Getty Images

For someone who now has such a high public profile, it was a lacklustre first showing. He arrived sweating, he was really stressed, recollected Abel Mestre, then the Front National correspondent for Le Monde. He had a computer and slides and threw out CD-Rs. It was very academic, nebulous , no one understood. The financial correspondents asked questions. He didnt respond, she responded for him. It was a fiasco At that stage everyone was wondering who her campaign head for her 2012 presidential attempt “wouldve been”. Correspondents were saying, Imagine if its that bloke from the breakfast, wouldnt it be amusing? And subsequently she announced it was. We were stunned by the choice.

When Philippot became head of Le Pens 2012 presidential campaign, he had only been a card-carrying member of the working party for a couple of months. But after her strong showing in the first round, in which she prevailed more than 6m votes and saw third, Marine Le Pen was in no doubt about who had attained the difference. She made Philippot the most powerful among her several party vice-presidents, in charge of strategy and communications. He was 31.

Philippots translation was floundering . He exited from a behind-the vistums intellectual to a highly public figure, dressed in a sharp navy dres and thin black tie. Since 2012, he has regularly appeared on politics pictures and rolling news programmes, delivering his tightly restrained party word. From the beginning, he rarely passed up a chance to be on TV or radio, where he is fluent, defiant, never tripping up, withering and merciless in his put-downs. Soon he was receiving 15 to 20 entreaties a epoch. I had complained that our party wasnt getting invited on television enough, so I could hardly then alter them down, he told me. He is always in motion, forever checking his phone.

He was also a constant existence at Le Pens area, exchanging knowing searches and puns with her, leaning in to mumble in her ear. He was likened to an old-fashioned courtier, but those who panicked his ambition nicknamed him Philippot the First. If a columnist didnt write what he wanted, he would blacklist them and stop taking their bawls, supposed Abel Mestre from Le Monde.

In the 2014 European elections, the Front National topped the poll with 24% of the voting rights. Since then, it has claimed to be the most difficult party in France. It had expanded its voter basi with working-class voters, public-sector workers and young people all amplifications attributed to Philippot.

His successes within the party and the media, nonetheless, did not translate to the campaign trail.In 2012 Philippot failed to be elected as an MP in the north-eastern former mining township of Forbach, on the German margin. He subsequently lost a mayoral poll in the same township , but did eventually take a seat in the European parliament elections in 2014, and a seat on the regional council for Grand Est the following year.

In politics, to succeed you have to move yourself panicked, and you have to move yourself desired, Jean-Yves Le Gallou supposed. I think he makes himself panicked in the working party, but Im not sure he knows how to move himself loved.

He works with his entrance shut in a giving where anyone works with their entrance open, said one senior party official. Hes not someone who indicates passion, or affection. Hes quite austere, cold, and remote, this is the only way wants to speak to Marine. But when you get beyond that, when he is prepared to go beyond that, he can be good company.

Just before Christmas 2014, Philippot was outed by the personality magazine Closer, photographed on a city break-dance to Vienna appearing to hold hands with a television columnist in his 30 s. Philippot sued the magazine and prevailed one of the most difficult invasion-of-privacy payouts in recent years. The timing was clumsy. In 2013, hundreds of thousands of people had staged street protests against the Progressive governments legalisation of same-sex marriage. Marine Le Pen, on Philippots advice, had not extended out to demonstrate. Instead she let her more religious and conservative niece Marion Marchal-Le Pen make it her own personal cause.

Marine Le Pen has placed several gay people in senior roles. The homosexual vote for the Front National has leapt in recent years, since the working party initiated to argue that immigration from Muslim countries was justification an increase in homophobia. But hardliners complain of a damaging homosexual hall at the heart of the party.Philippot denied it was difficult to be homosexual in the Front National. He said the party was not homophobic. Not at all, and I mean that, he supposed. Were a party that doesnt care about folks likings, their sexual practices or whatever Youre a French citizen foremost. And the Front National is a very young party: the member states, the voters, the candidates are young. This is a modern party.

But the day after we congregated, Philippot went to a medieval pageantry in his north eastern constituency and dressed up as a knight. True to his old pattern, Jean-Marie Le Pen tweeted a picture of Philippot in the costume with a homophobic innuendo on his so-called homosexual outfit.

Philippot did not respond at the time. But two weeks later, standing alone on the edge of a provincial party incident, he told me with cold poise: An revile infamy members of the public who moved it, specially if its a homophobic laugh worthy of a 12 -year-old. He should be asking himself some questions. Jean-Marie Le Pen didnt stop. In December, he told Le Figaro: Gays are like salt in soup, if theres nothing at all, its a little bit bland. If theres too much, its undrinkable.

Philippot and Marine Le Pen called their drive to move the working party more palatable to voters de-demonisation implying that it was the political and media nobilities who demonised the working party , not the party itself that was at fault. This rebranding exert was gravely compromised last year when Jean-Marie Le Pen, who still regarded an honorary persona in the working party, reiterated his view that gas chambers used to kill Jews in the Holocaust were merely a detail in its own historyof the second world war. A bitter family feud ensued, and encouraged by Philippot, Marine Le Pen ostracized her parent from the Front National.

It was a pain decision, and now father and daughter no longer speak. But Philippot stands by it. Happens could have happened differently, he supposed, if Jean-Marie Le Pen had truly agreed with the handover of power to his daughter.

I didnt come into this party answering Im going to go to campaign against Jean-Marie Le Pen I never had any animosity towards him, Philippot told me. But he was increasingly out to prompt, and his behaviour became indefensible. Le Pen for his part was indicated in a radio interview that he wished his daughter no longer bore his call, lending bitterly that she should wed her live-in lover or maybe she should wed Philippot.

Marine Le Pen, Jean-Marie Le Pen and Florian Philippot at the Front National summer youth congress, in 2014. Photograph: APERCU/ SIPA/ REX/ Shutterstock

On a sunny Saturday last-place May , on the veranda of a roadside restaurant near the Swiss margin, Philippot was holding his latest electoral artillery, Gordon the Whippet, on a red leather precede. Philippot was guest of honour at a weekend patriotic luncheon in Doubs, a semi-rural constituency in east France that was once a thriving centre of the French automobile industry. Amid frights of farther job losses, the Front Nationals share of the vote has steadily ripened here in every recent election. Gordon the Whippet was playing a significant role in Philippots recent drive to extend party subsistence, by plea to Frances vast number of pet-owners and animal welfare campaigners, including his next target demographic women and the elderly. Marine Le Pen are also very posting pictures of herself at home with her “cat-o-nine-tails”, cuddling kittens or hugging horses.( Philippot had become a regular visitor to Brigitte Bardot, the 1960 s film star moved animal rights campaigner, and Front National supporter. After their first meet at her Cote dAzur villa, Bardot had posed for paintings hugging him .)

Inside the restaurant, the atmosphere was gala. Party proletarians poured wine and acted guinea poultry to local advocates, including ex-soldiers, adjourned teaches, landlords, young mothers and small business owners. Michel, 60, an technologist from a village outside Besanon, on the Swiss margin, complained that he had recently encountered the status of women in a Lidl car-park wearing a niqab, despite a constitution censoring ladies from wearing full-face embraces in public. My wife and I are getting older and we wont be able to defend ourselves. Not merely will they infest us, they will want to impose sharia law, he said.

Philippots personal police guard stood watch near the door. Since the terrorist attacks on Paris in November 2015, in which 130 people expired, he has been given round-the-clock shield. With certain exceptions of Marine Le Pen, he is the only person in the Front National to be accorded this privilege.

After chocolate parfait, Philippot, in an open-necked lily-white shirt, stood and spoke into a cordless microphone. While Marine Le Pen throws resounding lectures at vast rallyings, he is more of a motivational after-dinner talker, galvanising the leafletters and canvassers. Our country is in very grave jeopardy, Philippot supposed. He described an apocalyptic image of France( our elderly people “re going through” bins outside supermarkets ), with patriots journeying to the rescue. Whenever our own countries had gone through a reporting period mistrust or nearly disappeared, he supposed, France was always able to drive out the imposters in power and replace them with people who really loved home countries. The audience cheered.

Gordon the Whippet stood to attention at “the worlds largest” impassioned levels, quivering with passion. The dog was on loan from Philippots close friend and party ally, Sophie Montel, a veteran Front National MEP who lived in a nearby village. Florian has imposed arrangement on “states parties ” that was always chaotic, disorganised, doing things at the last minute, Montel told me.

Hovering around Philippot at the lunch are just a few of the sharp-suited, well-educated, on-message young staffers that he has recruited and placed across the party arrangement. An article about them in LObs magazine in May 2016 titled Improve! Philippot has cloned himself – had particularly pleased him, although the idea that he is creating his own devoted identikit horde inside the party has irked his critics. Rather than throwing dinner parties, Philippot sometimes relax at theme-parks like Parc Astrix, or rallyings his young troops with outings to laser label. He throws us a lot of work hes truly challenging, but if you testify yourself, he relies you very quickly, supposed Thomas Laval, 23. One of Philippots proteges, Laval is a student and regional councillor in the north-east and co-president of a Front National party section that lately opened, amid much debate, at the elite Science Po institute in Paris. In November, a student union sit-in blocked Philippot from showing at a debate there. Despite its own language of technocrats like Florian Philippot, the Front National is still the Front National, “states parties ” thats racist, anti-semitic and extreme-right, Sacha Ghozlan, of the Union of Jewish students of France, told Le Monde at the protest.

In a party run along clan paths, Philippot quickly appreciated the importance of constructing his own trusted inner circle, bringing in his pollster brother, then his father a former primary school headteacher, who is now a regional councillor in the north.

Although the Philippot line predominates the working party and his strategy forms the foundation of Marine Le Pens presidential attempt, ideological different in Philippot and Le Pens ambitious niece Marion Marchal-Le Pen still fester. She is anti-abortion and against same-sex marriage. Philippot guesses those issues could scare off new voters and should be left alone.

He rejects the friction between them as little differences in recline, but there is still low-level sniping. Last year, Philippot rejected Marchal-Le Pens very concerned about same-sex marriage as less important to party members than growing bonsai trees. Later, in a video filmed at his flat, he talked to the camera with a bonsai tree placed in full view on a table beside him.

Ideological different in Philippot and Le Pens ambitious niece Marion Marchal-Le Pen( drawn) still fester and could complicate the presidential campaign. Photograph: Jean-Francois Monier/ AFP/ Getty Images

In the east city of Metz , near the German margin, at the end of May, rainwater ran into the cloistered courtyard of a 17 th-century abbey. Neighbourhood politicians were brought together in a council chamber in the basement, thrashing out the 2.5 bn budget for the Grand Est region. Unfolding from the vineyards of Champagne down through Alsace-Lorraine, the area, comprising 5.5 million people, is bigger than some European countries.

The French regional elections in 2015 were a turning point for the Front National. The party topped the first round with 28% of the voting rights. Mainstream parties warned the antisemitic and racist party would bring France to its knees. The left withdrew in important areas, connecting with the right to stop the Front National prevailing hold of any region.

Since his poll as a regional councillor, Philippot now extends the most difficult opposition political parties on the Grand Est council. But as the regional assembly run by the centre-right Rpublicains party discussed the crucial budget for high schools, transport and local investment, his seat in the chamber was empty. He was 300 kilometres away in a Paris TV studio, on one of Frances most well known morning politics shows.

The session began without him. It was a gift for his regional opponents, who call him a carpetbagging Paris opportunist with no real local ties.

While were waiting for our extreme-right peer, let me just say Im so happy that this area isnt run by the extreme right, smiled the Socialist party deputy Pernelle Richardot. The Front National councillors, fierce to be called extreme-right, erupted in fury and began angrily banging on their tables and shouting in protest.

Four hours later, fresh off the high-speed develop from Paris, Philippot took his seat, as if nothing had been amiss. Within times, a councillor for the Rpublicains “ve called the” Front National extreme right once again. Philippot narrowed his eyes and leaned into his microphone: I demand that the session be suspended so the elected member can take time to reflect on the seriousness of what he has just said. Philippot stood up and stormed out, with his 45 councillors following in single file. Ooh, hes enraged, shouted a grinning councillor from the Socialist terraces, rubbing his hands gleefully.

After nightfall, when the general assembly session seemed like it would never end, a Front National councillor made a provocative suggestion that the names of all people listed on the intelligence services confidential S-files of individuals believed to have been radicalised “mustve been” pennant to high schools who could check if any were on their staff.

In a certain period of its own history, we placed yellow-bellied virtuosoes on people. Youre not far from that with your S files! shouted a member of the Rpublicains. Metz, on the frontline of first and second world wars, is extremely sensitive to any reference to the Nazi occupation. Hearing his party likened to the Nazis, Philippot get up, and stormed out of the chamber, once again followed dutifully by his councillors.

I do it systematically, he explained in the passageway. Each time they call us extreme right, I walk out. Its insulting to us, and even more so to our voters.

Yet these repeated objections did seem time-consuming. And failing to turn up in the morning had attained him an easy target for his critics. Its the first time I havent is right there, he said and shrugged. They require me, theyre lost without me.

The night Britain voted on whether to leave the European Union, before the polls had even closed, Philippot hosted a Front National Brexit revelry dinner at a Parisian bistro. Marine Le Pen was there, smiling and chortling, eating fish and chippings and waving French and British flags.

Philippot subsequently “says theres” two key instants in their own lives where reference is wept when his mother died in 2009 and his weepings of elation when Britain voted to leave the EU.

To see something happening in a major European country, which is exactly what were proposing for France, were thrilled, he told me the morning after the vote. Brexit was a vindication of his own strategy. To radical right parties across Europe, globalisation was flunking and the nation state was back.

This month, Philippot addressed a meet of party proletarians in lOise, in the northern Picardy heartlands where the Front Nationals popularity is climb. A majority of French people belief like us, he supposed. But more than half of French people still consider the working party as a danger to democracy and merely one-third believe that it is capable of governing. Le Pens campaign, which begins in earnest in February, will depend heavily on Philippots claim that they are able to neutralise aggression and win over reticent parts of the electorate.

But for some, softening the Front Nationals word will not help the party to win. He has set out to pasteurise the discourse, but it wasnt a pasteurised discourse that led to a the Brexit and Trump wins, said here far-right thinker Jean-Yves Le Gallou. It was the complete antonym.

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