It all started with a little sentence pronounced by Elisabeth Borne this weekend explaining that the National Rally is "the heir of Pétain." It did not take more for the Prime Minister to trigger a wave of indignation among the executives of the far-right party, Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella in the lead. Finally, even the President of the Republic got involved to reframe his head of government. A look back at the latest controversy in the French political world.

"Petain's heir"

It was in an interview with Radio J broadcast on Sunday that Elisabeth Borne issued a categorical opinion on the French far-right party. "I don't believe in the normalization of the National Rally at all. I think you shouldn't trivialize your ideas, your ideas are always the same. So now, the National Rally is putting the forms, but I continue to think that it is a dangerous ideology, "she said before recalling that the party is "the heir of Pétain."

The prime minister also took aim at the heiress of the former National Front, saying she has "never heard Marine Le Pen denounce what may have been the historical positions of her party and I think that a change of name does not change the ideas, the roots." The head of government also judged that there was "an obvious proximity" between the RN and Vladimir Putin. "If [Marine Le Pen] wants to rewrite history, we don't have to fall into this trap. This proximity exists and is not erased," she said.

'Infamous remarks'

A formal attack that provoked the ire of the main interested party. "Elisabeth Borne's comments about the National Rally are infamous and unworthy. They are not acceptable to the leading opposition party, its 88 deputies, its thousands of elected representatives and the millions of French people it represents! "protested Marine Le Pen on Twitter.

Elisabeth Borne's remarks about the National Rally are infamous and unworthy. They are not acceptable to the leading opposition party, its 88 deputies, its thousands of elected representatives and the millions of French people it represents!

— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) May 28, 2023

Access to this content has been blocked in order to respect your choice of consent

By clicking on "I ACCEPT", you accept the deposit of cookies by external services and will thus have access to the content of our partners


And to better pay 20 Minutes, do not hesitate to accept all cookies, even for one day only, via our button "I accept for today" in the banner below.

More information on the Cookie Policy page.

His message was published minutes after that of party chairman Jordan Bardella, who also railed with the same arguments. "By making such serious, lying and insulting remarks, Elisabeth Borne insults the first opposition party and smears the millions of French people who vote for the RN," he said.

"Elisabeth Borne is at the same time uneducated, unworthy and incapable," also criticized Sébastien Chenu in Political Questions (France Inter/France Info/Le Monde). "Uneducated because it forgets that in the history of the National Front, people founded it like Georges Bidault, president of the Council and resistant, like Michel de Camaret, resistant," said the elected representative of the North. The RN MP, however, forgot to mention that Pierre Bousquet, former Waffen-SS, also participated in the foundation of the National Front in 1972.

Reframing of the President of the Republic

The story did not stop there. It seems that Elisabeth Borne's words have moved even in the highest spheres of the Republic. During the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, it was Emmanuel Macron himself who came to reframe his Prime Minister. "You will not succeed in making millions of French people who voted for the far right believe that they are fascists," said the head of state, according to several participants.

"The fight against the far right no longer involves moral arguments," the president said. According to him, "we must discredit" the RN "by the substance and inconsistencies" rather than by "words of the 90s that no longer work." However, he was keen to recall the next day, Wednesday, that his Prime Minister still has "all his confidence."

Jordan Bardella nevertheless took the opportunity to ask Elisabeth Borne to apologize for statements that, according to him, "shocked many French". For her part, the executive vice-president of Reconquest!, Marion Maréchal, denounced "intellectual poverty" of the "cheesy" statements of the Prime Minister, giving "reason" to Emmanuel Macron for having distanced himself from it.

And cascading reviews

This position of the President of the Republic immediately triggered a wave of indignation, on the right and on the left. The most virulent charge came from Olivier Marleix, the boss of the deputies The Republicans, who recalled that Emmanuel Macron had been elected in 2017 and re-elected five years later in the second round against Marine Le Pen thanks to the "Republican barrage", ensuring that the "demonization" of the RN had allowed him to access the Elysee and to be re-elected last year. "Now that he is no longer eligible for re-election, come and tell us that after him finally the flood, I find it extremely unhealthy on his part," said the elected LR, denouncing a "rather incredible cynicism" on the part of the head of state.

Remarks shared by Xavier Bertrand, the LR president of the Hauts-de-France region, who also called not to forget the "history" of the RN so as not to contribute to its trivialization. The reframing of the Prime Minister illustrates once again the deterioration of the relationship between the two heads of the executive. To the point that for some, on the left, the head of state, has come to ignore the personal history of Elisabeth Borne. PS First Secretary Olivier Faure recalled on Twitter that Elisabeth Borne was the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and that she was legitimate to recall "the filiation of the extreme right." Within the opposition, it is finally only the far right that has spared Emmanuel Macron.

  • Politics
  • Marine Le Pen
  • Far right
  • Jordan Bardella
  • National Rally (RN)
  • Elisabeth Borne
  • Emmanuel Macron