President Donald Trump has become a worldwide phenomenon. All across Europe, conservatives are mobilizing to reject globalism, the U.N., and open borders.
The impossible is now possible, French conservative presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said in celebration the morning after Trump won the U.S. presidency.
Now she’s jumped into serious contention in the race — and it has liberals furious.
French voters have learned at least one thing from Trump’s surprising victory and Britain’s surprising vote to leave the European Union: They need to be ready for a surprise.
With only six days left before Sunday’s first-round vote, polls show the four leading French candidates are so close in popularity that there’s no clear front-runner. The top two candidates advance to a May 7 runoff.
Le Pen, campaigning against immigration and Europe’s open borders, has a good chance of reaching the runoff but for months was told she has little chance of winning it – at least according to pollsters, who have suffered their own Trump effect after failing to predict his presidency.
Populists elsewhere in Europe have had huge success in elections since November. In France, Trump’s victory has given new focus to Le Pen — and her rivals.
Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron is framing himself as a bulwark against Trump’s America.
Other candidates are warning that Le Pen’s dreams of leaving the EU and the euro would wipe out voters’ savings and devastate the economy.
Le Pen enjoyed a boost from the Trump phenomenon – the rise of anti-establishment sentiment, especially from working classes who lost out from the globalization that transformed the world over the past generation. Le Pen has courted that electorate for years and saw Trump’s election as vindication of that strategy.
Sponsored: 3 foods that help your blood pressure
Hours after Trump was elected, Le Pen said, “What happened tonight is not the end of the world, it’s the end of a (certain) world.” She called his victory and the Brexit vote “democratic choices that bury the ancient order and are as many stones to build the world of tomorrow.”
She also promises more border security after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks on France.
Le Pen’s electorate is not an exact mirror of Trump’s. She doesn’t have a powerful party machine like that of Trump’s Republicans, and has less support from older generations who supported Trump. But Le Pen enjoys more support from youth.
Sponsored: Urgent news for Christian Americans…
Riviere said any lingering Trump effect on the French campaign could also favor other candidates, such as far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, who rails against free trade. Or conservative Francois Fillon, who has adopted Trump-style criticism of the media.
“We are in a very unprecedented moment in French politics,” Riviere said. “This presidential term will be something we have never seen before.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article