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Le Pen launches EU campaign with appeal to "yellow vests"



PARIS (Reuters) – French right-wing leader Marine Le Pen launched its campaign on May 26 in the European Parliament on Sunday with an appeal to the broad "yellow west" protest movement that has overthrown the government.

French right-wing National Rally (Rassemblement National) party leader Marine Le Pen delivers her speech as she launches her European Parliament election campaign in Paris, France on January 13, 2019. REUTERS / Christian Hartmann

Le Pen called on the tens of thousands of protesters who have held weekly protests against President Emmanuel Macron since November to get the EU to vote for a referendum on his policies.

"In connection with the yellow vests healthy popular rebellion, this election gives a chance to end this crisis born of irreconcilability and contempt … by an incompetent president whose behavior disrupts," Le Pen said for a election rally for her National Rally ("Rassemblement National") party.

Born from a grassroots protest against high fuel prices, the yellow vest has become a broad and sometimes violent movement, requiring more social justice for low-skilled workers left behind by globalization, deregulation and EU integration.

Although independent of parties and trade unions, the movement shares many of the RN's demands: proportional representation in parliament, direct democracy through Swiss-style referendums, less European integration, and – above all – the termination of the macron.

"If Macron does not have the wisdom to return to the people by dissolving parliament, let the political arbitrage come from elections to Europe," Le Pen said as her supporters repeatedly shouted "Macron, Demission!" , termination!

POLITICAL CARD REDRAWN

Both Le Pen and left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon have publicly sympathized with the yellow vests – named for the high-vision jackets they wear – and asked for their support.

Le Pen hopes that the EU vote will promote the resumption of France's political map The process began with the first round of the presidential elections in 2017, when Macron's start-up movement and her own national front, since renamed, eliminated the traditional major parties – the conservative Les Republicains and the Socialists.

"The battle is now between nationalists and globalists," she said.

Since the start of the yellow western protests, Le Pen's RN has been voted in. A mid-December Ifop survey gave it 24 percent support versus 18 percent for Macron's LREM

The conservatives had 11 percent, Melenchons La France Insoumise ("France Unbowed") 9 percent, the movement of former Le Pen allies a Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 8 percent and the Social Democrats only 4.5 percent.

Le Pen herself does not run into the European elections as she will remain in the French Parliament, and Sunday, 23-year-old Jordan Bardella presented as NR's leading candidate.

"In Italy and Austria, our allies govern," Bardella said. "A better tomorrow is within our grasp."

Slideshow (2 Images)

Macron himself will launch three months of national debate this week to fly yellow-west complaints in the hope of appease the movement.

An RN supporter on Sunday's rally, Sebastien Lefevre, told Reuters that he fully supports the yellow vests, like his party.

"And from what I understand from the polls, most of the yellow vests would vote for us," he said.

Further reporting by Julie Carriat and Lucien Libert; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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