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article imageFar-right Le Pen launches European elections campaign

By Anne RENAUT (AFP)     Jan 13, 2019 in Politics

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Sunday launched her party's campaign for the European Parliament elections, pledging to beat President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party in the vote.

Le Pen, leader of the National Rally (RN), formerly the National Front, presented the first 12 candidates on her list before a crowd of some 2,000 supporters in Paris.

"If Emmanuel Macron does not have the wisdom to change policies, if he does not have the wisdom to return to the people" by dissolving parliament for fresh elections, voters will express their discontent at the European elections, Le Pen said.

The European Parliament elections will be held May 23 to 26.

At the campaign launch, Le Pen slammed Macron over the "yellow vests" demonstrations, which have seen hundreds of thousands of people protest since November against the president's policies and leadership.

She accused Macron of "blindness" and "intransigence".

Macron scored an easy victory over Le Pen in the second round of France's May 2017 presidential election.

However, the "yellow vest" movement, which began as protests over high fuel taxes, has snowballed into a wholesale rejection of Macron and his policies, which are seen as favouring the wealthy at the expense of rural and small-town France.

The campaign launch comes as French prosecutors continue to investigate Le Pen over the alleged misuse of public funds at the European Parliament.

RN members are being probed over allegations that they defrauded the EU out of 6.8 million euros in funding between 2009 and 2017.

Le Pen has insisted she and the party are "completely innocent" and portrayed the case and others against her as politically motivated.

Responding on Twitter to Le Pen's speech, European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau mentioned the financing scandal, referring to the "embezzlement of public funds and fictitious jobs".

"Le Pen invokes Christian values but violates the values of humanism. Let's make sure next May is without them," she wrote.

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