Marine Le Pen, the parliamentary leader of France’s National Rally party, rejects claims that she and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni are of the same political stripe, and instead argues they are fundamentally very different politicians. In interviews with German newspaper Die Welt and Italy’s La Repubblica, Le Pen says Meloni is too moderate, supports NATO, and is not a Euroskeptic politician.
“I remain Euroskeptic, convinced that France must leave the integrated command of NATO, and I am against the delivery of offensive weapons to Ukraine,” said Le Pen told. She also stated: “I remain Euroskeptic, and every day that passes, I become even more Euroskeptic.”
On top of rejecting Meloni’s foreign policy positions, Le Pen takes her position a step further, saying that she backs League party leader Matteo Salvini, who is currently locked in a contentious coalition with Meloni.
Politically, I feel closer to Matteo Salvini,” said Le Pen. “I don’t adapt my speech to the election results: I am a loyal person.”
“I am not Meloni’s twin sister, I remain faithful to Salvini,” she added.
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At the same time, Le Pen said a victory for Putin would be a disaster. However, instead of supplying arms to Ukraine, she would push for a peaceful resolution to the war.
“As president, I would do anything for a peaceful solution to the conflict because there are no good solutions: If Russia won the war, it would be a disaster. All states that have a territorial conflict imagine that they can resolve it with arms,” said Meloni, adding: “Should Ukraine win, it would mean that NATO would be at war because Ukraine alone cannot militarily withstand Russia. So we would have triggered a third world war. If we continue to trickle in arms, we’ll start another Hundred Years’ War, which would be a human catastrophe given the number of casualties. My impression is that many are talking about this conflict as if it were a video game.”
Meloni, in contrast, has strongly backed further weapons shipments to Ukraine, while Meloni’s ally, Salvini, has called for Europe to pursue a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Other leaders in his party are taking a similar stance. Massimiliano Romeo, who heads the League’s faction in the Italian Senate, has also criticized what he says is Italy’s deeper involvement in the war, and asked: “Does anyone really think we can defeat Russia’s military?”
The League’s position is more in line with the position taken by conservative leaders such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Herbert Kickl, leader of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ).
Meloni has also come under increasing scrutiny from conservatives since her election victory, particularly given her lax approach to immigration.
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Given Le Pen’s stance, it is no surprise she has welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron’s shift toward Europe pursuing strategic autonomy, as he outlined during his visit to China earlier this month. However, Le Pen said the French president “is inconsistent because he submits to Europe and the United States.”
“I agree with him, but Macron’s problem is… on one hand, he makes such statements, but on the other hand, he subordinates himself to the EU’s diplomatic agenda, which we all know is heavily influenced by the USA. He contradicts himself because he has Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with him, who does not represent anyone diplomatically,” said Le Pen.
Furthermore, despite Macron’s talk of sovereignty, she said she does not believe his version of it.
“Macron has been selling us for years on European sovereignty, but there is none. In order to be able to speak of sovereignty, you need a people. There is no European people. Europe has no mandate and no voice vis-à-vis major powers like the U.S. and China,” she said.
Circling back to Meloni, Le Pen said that despite their differences, she has a clear preference for Meloni over her political predecessor, Mario Draghi. Le Pen said she also recognizes that Meloni, as the leader of Italy, may have political interests that differ from those of French politicians.
“France has a political legacy and independence at an international level. Meloni is in favor of NATO because she is Italian. There are parts of her project that I do not agree with,” said Le Pen.
Le Pen also hinted that she has plans to run for reelection in 2027.
“Today I am the natural candidate of my political family, but not a candidate for life,” she said.
However, in the short term, she also has an ambitious goal, which involves forming a bloc of sovereignists in the European Parliament following elections in the spring of 2024. She hopes this group can form to tackle essential issues, such as immigration and believes this group could become “the largest in the European Parliament.”
Given the position of Meloni, Le Pen said she “can only seek an Italian side in the League” when it comes to allying with an Italian party in the European Parliament.