Marine Le Pen has temporarily resigned from her role as leader of her party, Front National.
Le Pen described her move in the following way,
“I have always considered that the president is the president of all the French. Under this banner, he or she must unite all the French.
Tonight, I am no longer the president of the Front National. I am the presidential candidate.
I will be above partisan considerations”.
Le Pen’s move will come as a surprise to many as it comes very late in the game with less than a fortnight until the final round of French elections.
However, it is a move that is may well outshine her opponent Emmanuel Macron. Macron is a man who started his own En Marche! party as an opportunistic vehicle for his own personal ambitions, knowing that his erstwhile Socialist Party had been tarnished by the failure of the Francois Hollande Presidency.
By contrast, Le Pen stepped into a party with something of a toxic brand image because of her reactionary father. She worked tirelessly to re-brand the party without diluting her own unique message. In many ways her numbers in the first round, won in a crowded field of experienced politicians is a testament to her personal success.
By stepping aside from the party politics of the race to focus on Marine Le Pen the woman rather than Marine Le Pen the party leader, she may be able to build a wider coalition against Macron.
Whether it is successful remains to be seen. The odds are stacked against her, but she may yet pull the biggest electoral upset in modern French history.