Marine Le Pen put in a prime time appearance tonight. She attempted straightaway to reorient the party's message toward economic populism: get rid of the Euro, borrow from the Bank of France "at zero interest" rather than from international financial markets (just print as much as you need, I guess), protect jobs (the name of Maurice Allais was invoked!), etc. David Pujadas remarked that the FN had proposed to reduce the top marginal tax rate--a gift to the wealthy--but walked into MLP's fist when she retorted that this proposition had been removed from the FN Web site immediately after her election. But she also reverted to more traditional themes, defending her father's latest verbal dérapage while insisting that he and she have different ways of expressing themselves.
Did she do herself any good? I haven't much of a feel for the thinking of the part of the electorate likely to respond to her signals, but I suspect that some who find nothing much to like in any of the parties will be drawn to her as a renewed symbol of protest and rejection. She's different enough from her father to seem new; her nationalist rhetoric and "economic patriotism" will resonate in many ears, including some on the left; and she made it clear that she hasn't moderated a bit on opposition to immigration, which she blames for all the ills that can't be attributed to "international financial markets." The FN foresaw everything that has happened, she claims: economic collapse, insecurity, the weakening of France on the international scene. Meanwhile, party membership has rebounded from its low of 2007 to attain 2002 levels. Not good news for Sarkozy. The promise of diminishing the FN might have been his finest achievement, had it been real, but it seems that it was based on a false premise: his strategy of co-optation has actually played into the enemy's hands.