by WorldTribune Staff, February 20, 2017
National Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is rising in the polls after socialist candidate Emmanuel Macron sparked a major uproar by calling French colonialism a “crime against humanity.”
Analysts say Macron all but handed Le Pen “an electoral gift.” A Feb. 20 OpinionWay poll showed Le Pen with 27 percent support compared to 20 percent each for Macron and Republican candidate Francois Fillon.
Macron, a 38-year-old who is married to his former high school teacher, was speaking about French rule in Algeria, which ran for 132 years until a bloody war of independence in 1962, when he said “colonization is part of French history. It is a crime, a crime against humanity, it is a real barbarism.
“And it’s part of the past and now we have to look forward and present our apologies regarding those to whom we have committed these acts.”
Macron, the independent En Marche! candidate, was in Algeria when he made the comments which stirred an immediate backlash in France.
Le Pen said on Facebook: “Is there anything more serious when you want to be President of the Republic than to go abroad to accuse the country you want to lead of a crime against humanity? By using this argument probably for basely electoral reasons, the crime was committed by Mr. Macron. He committed it against his own country.”
Wallerand de Saint-Just, an official in Le Pen’s National Front party, accused Macron of “shooting France in the back.”
Gerald Darmanin, an ally of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, tweeted “Shame on Emmanuel Macron for insulting France while abroad”.
About 100 demonstrators showed up to a Macron campaign rally in Toulon on Feb. 19, shouting “Macron, treason.”
The first round of the 2017 French presidential election will be held on April 23. Should no candidate win a majority, a run-off election between the top two candidates will be held on May 7.