Could a controversial French politician promising, much like Donald Trump did, to rein in immigration win the French presidency? Populist politician Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Front party, speaks to Anderson Cooper for a 60 Minutes report Sunday, March 5 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Like President Trump, Marine Le Pen takes a hard line on immigration and champions the unemployed workers of France, who she says have been harmed by globalization. Her views have resonated within the French electorate. She wants to drastically reduce legal immigration and deport all illegal immigrants, and she says she would also like to ban conspicuous religious garb in public, including Muslim headscarves and yarmulkes.
“[France] isn’t Burkinis on the beach. France is Brigitte Bardot. That’s France.”
One thing Le Pen and some other French conservatives are upset about is a full-body swimsuit called the Burkini, which French Muslims have been wearing to the beach. Le Pen brought up the Burkini to make a broader point about immigration and assimilation in France, enlisting a French film star of the 1960s and 70s to help illustrate it. “[France] isn’t Burkinis on the beach. France is Brigitte Bardot. That’s France,” she tells Cooper. Is she trying to “make France great again,” just as Donald Trump promised during the campaign to “make America great again?” asks Cooper. “Of, course,” she replies, “I’ve been saying so for many years.”
She is also like President Trump in her attitude toward Russia. Calling the notion of a Russian threat a “scam,” Le Pen says, “I’ll tell you what the danger is for Europe. It’s carrying out a cold war against Russia and pushing Russia into China’s arms. That’s the threat.”
“Look. I’m not a fan in a rock concert, you see. I am a political leader in a great nation of the world. What interests me are France’s interests.”
President Donald Trump does not condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin either, despite Russia’s military incursions into Ukraine. But Le Pen insists her intention is not to champion Putin, but rather, to look out for France. “Look. I’m not a fan in a rock concert, you see. I am a political leader in a great nation of the world. What interests me are France’s interests,” she tells Cooper.
Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a French politician who co-founded the National Front and became infamous for anti-Semitic remarks. He was repeatedly found guilty in court of questioning the Holocaust. She has denounced her father’s extreme politics and says the two are now estranged, but his reputation still casts a shadow over her career.