A controversial, right-wing nationalist figure, accused of pushing a xenophobic agenda, looks set to become a presidential candidate in a head-to-head with a so-called establishment politician.
The French presidential election may not be held until spring, but Front National leader Marine Le Pen is proudly connecting dots between Brexit, Donald Trump and what she predicts will be her political victory.
“It’s certainly some kind of emergence of a new world,”
“The victory of Mr Trump registers a striking demonstration of force towards ending the savagery of globalisation. It’s just like after Brexit which was also a very interesting show of force.”
She was speaking in Henin-Beaumont near the city of Lens, where she attended an Armistice Day service at the town’s war memorial.
She stood alongside the mayor, a fellow Front National member, in what is now seen as the party’s northern heartland.
Blighted by post-industrial unemployment, concerns over immigration, a faltering local economy and disillusionment with France’s traditional parties has led many to consider Ms Le Pen their only hope.
In the 2012 presidential elections she may have failed to get enough support nationally to make it through to the head-to-head second round, but in Henin-Beaumont Ms Le Pen won around 35% of the vote – topping the poll ahead of Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.
In 2017 she seems confident that kind of pattern could spread across the country.
Polling suggests she will have enough support nationally to go through to the final run-off, where she would most likely face former Republican Prime Minister Alain Juppé.
Frédéric Dabi, a French political pollster from market research firm Ifop, told Xul News that currently Mr Juppé’s lead is clear, but the campaign could change everything, and that polling failures in the UK and the US will up the stakes.
“There hasn’t been any major error in polls in France since 21 April 2002 when we didn’t predict Jean Marie Le Pen getting to the second round,” he said.
“But what’s happened abroad is making us more prudent, making us have another look at the best way to improve the methods as much as possible.”
Ms Le Pen and her party will no doubt face a tough battle. Her opponents, like those of Mr Trump and of Brexit, will warn she represents a dark and dangerous future.
They will say her policies threaten security, the economy and the rights of minorities – that a vote for the Front National risks ignoring some of the bloodiest lessons of history.
But, what we have seen so far in 2016, is that popular, raw, angry desire for change at any cost can withstand arguments like this – and Ms Le Pen knows it.