France presidential election - Marine Le Pen: "I will control immigration"
France 24

Marine Le Pen received her highest ever results during the first round of presidential elections in France.

According to The Economist, Le Pen secured 23.3 per cent of votes on Sunday, coming a close second after Emmanuel Macron, who topped the round with 28.1 per cent of votes.

The results mean she will go head-to-head with Macron on April 24 to determine who will be the French president for the next five years. This is the closest Le Pen has come to potentially evicting Macron. During her 2017 run, she lost to the Macron by 66 per cent to 34 per cent.

Le Pen's notable increase in popularity could result from her softening her image despite policies that target Muslims and foreign immigrants.

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These include a ban on Muslim headscarves in public places and deporting foreigners who have a period of unemployment of over a year. Le pen has also attempted to tap into the grievances of voters who have faced rising fuel, food and energy costs.

But who is she, and what is her background?

Who is Marine Le Pen?

Who is Marine Le Pen and what are her policies?Getty

Le Pen, also known by her initials 'MLP', is a French lawyer and far-right politician, who served as president of the National Rally Party from 2011 to 2021. The 53-year-old is the youngest daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who served as President of the National Front from 1972 to 2011. Le Pen is also the aunt of former FN MP Marion Maréchal.

Le Pen is known to have led a movement of "de-demonisation of the National Front" to soften its image where she removed members accused of racism, antisemitism, or Pétainism. In doing so, she expelled her own father in August 2015 following controversial statements. Le Pen said she would heal France's divisions if elected president in a runoff vote following Sunday's projections.

"I intend without waiting to sew back up the tears that a torn-apart France suffers from which now the power has been able to do until now," she told supporters.

She will go up against Macron, with the French President noting that more than 36 million people had voted when the voting had closed on Sunday.

Speaking on Sunday, Macron said: "You can all count on me to set in motion this project of progress, openness, French and European independence that we have defended throughout this campaign."

"When the extreme right in all its forms represents so much of our country, we cannot feel that things are going well," he said.

Speaking about Le Pen votes, Macron said: "I want to convince them in the next few days that our project answers solidly to their fears and challenges of our time."

Macron told supporters that the next two weeks "will be decisive for our country and for Europe".

"Don't be mistaken," he said, "nothing is decided."

She expelled her father from the party in August 2015, after he made new controversial statementsHave your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

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