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French far-right 'courting UAE funding' for presidential election campaign

Le Pen has previously expressed interest in establishing links with the UAE in 2014 [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 October, 2016

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Investigations suggest the UAE were disappointed with the National Front’s performance in December elections but retain hope that Marine Le Pen could win in 2017.

France’s far-right National Front party is seeking money from the United Arab Emirates in order to fund the presidential election campaign of leader Marine Le Pen, according to a report by French investigative journal Mediapart

Since the revelation, the National Front has admitted it is seeking funds from the Middle East in preparation for 2017 presidential elections.

“We're seeking worldwide (support), everywhere but France, considering that all the banks (in France) have rejected us,” said National Front economic strategist and European Parliament MP Bernard Monot to Mediapart.

Le Pen has previously expressed interest in establishing links with the UAE. In 2014, she told France 24 that France should seek support from Muslim countries that fight fundamentalism” referencing the UAE and Egypt as potential donors.

Le Pen is said to have held meetings with UAE representatives at her home in Motretout in July 2014 as well as Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and other Egyptian political and religious leaders in May 2015.

“We're seeking worldwide (support), everywhere but France, considering that all the banks (in France) have rejected us.”
Bernard Monot, National Front economic strategist and European Parliament MP.

Mediapart also suggested that the UAE have vested interests through a potential relationship with the National Front of developing relations with Russia. 

Courting the UAE could prove an effective strategy for Le Pen given how France’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been heavily scrutinised in the aftermath of terror attacks in France in January and November 2015, with some claiming that Paris was indirectly responsible for such attacks by maintaining strong diplomatic and economic relations with states perceived to “fund terrorism.”

Conversely, openly seeking financial support from the Middle East — whether from UAE or Egyptian sources — may alienate some, more radical supporters from Le Pen’s fan base who have criticised Abu Dhabi’s role in constructing mosques in France. 

Once on the fringes of French politics, in the last few years Le Pen has enlarged her electoral base by attempting to appeal to voters outside the traditional far-right, gaining success in the process. Some polls suggest the National Front is expected to win the first round of the 2017 presidential elections with 25-30 percent of the vote. 

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