French politics: Operation detox

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French politics


As the National Front surges in the polls, its leader strives to show a reassuring face



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“I SAW her!” squeals a teenaged girl. “I got a photo!” shrieks her friend. As Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front (FN), steps from her dark-windowed car on to the streets of this quiet rural town in the Picardy plains, she is treated as a minor rock star. In an arresting change from the past, nobody seems embarrassed to show enthusiasm for a populist, far-right party or its carefully groomed leader.
Retired couples and mothers with pushchairs shove forward; smartphones are thrust into the air to capture the moment. Even before Ms Le Pen arrives on a bright market day, a crowd gathers on the pavement in the hope of catching a glimpse of her. “Perhaps she’ll be the one to save …<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>