Smoke bombs and flags. If they hadn’t been pink, we could have imagined ourselves at the Stade de France. But we are in Paris, this Thursday, November 16, where the Manif pour Tous is back in action. Renamed the Family Union, the association organized a rally to protest, this time, against GPA. In its sights, the European project to legislate on a certificate of parenthood, which would oblige all Member States of the European Union to recognize GPAs practiced abroad.
On the front line, Marion Maréchal. The former FN MP, today head of the list for the European elections of Reconquête (Eric Zemmour’s party) was already at the head of the procession, 10 years earlier, during the mobilization to protest against the opening of marriage to people of the same sex. She was accompanied, at the time, by several frontists, including Nicolas Bay and Stéphane Ravier. Both have since deserted Marine Le Pen’s party to join Eric Zemmour. This Thursday, walking through the crowd, there was no trace of any elected official from the National Rally. Since its massive arrival in the Assembly, the far-right party has, it seems, deserted societal issues.
Asked about his possible presence at the demonstration, an influential RN deputy retorted: “Oula, no.” God (or anyone else) forbid. Another responds: “I won’t be there, but I fully support the message of the demonstration against surrogacy!” Two messages, two atmospheres. Two lines, too. Because for years, societal issues have been embarrassing the party in flames. Two tendencies coexist within the Marinist formation: the conservative Catholic fringe on morals, and the proponents of a more liberal, even libertarian line. Two irreconcilable visions, in short. Regarding surrogacy, Marine Le Pen nevertheless gave the official position in her 2022 program. She plans to strengthen the ban on surrogacy, to “avoid circumvention of the law by resorting to foreign countries”, and the refusal to recognize the parentage of foreign children born through surrogacy.
“There is a debate at the RN on GPA”
“There is a debate at the National Rally on the question,” assured RN deputy Julien Odoul, in September, at the microphone of France Culture. “I don’t know if it’s desirable. I understand the desire to have children, that homosexual couples want to build a family, we have to see what that conveys, it has to be regulated. On societal issues I “I have a fairly lucid and pragmatic outlook, I am not stubborn on these questions.” Privately, other elected officials admit to being in favor of the legalization of GPA. Enough to provoke the anger of some of their comrades. “The GPA is the red line, one of them gets annoyed. And after the GPA what will it be? I don’t understand how we can be at the RN and be in favor of the idea of marketing a uterus. ” The debate still remains vague, since no text on the question is planned, for the moment, on the agenda of the National Assembly. But if this were to be the case, opponents of the GPA hope that a voting instruction will be given, and that it will stick to the 2022 program.
A year ago, another question divided the frontist group: that of the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution. Of the 89 deputies, 38 voted for, 23 against, and 13 abstained. Marine Le Pen herself had varied her position several times before voting for. The most conservative, for their part, had been invited with the most exemplary discretion. Officially, “so as not to fall into the trap” of division set by their political adversaries. Unofficially, so as not to wash their dirty laundry in public. Because on societal issues, the tone is quickly rising among the frontists. And everyone is aware of it. “We don’t like these subjects, because we know that it will divide,” confides an MP on condition of anonymity. “It’s true that with each societal issue, we tell ourselves that it’s going to be a nest to get into trouble, that we’re going to have to take a position, and that it’s going to be corrosive internally,” adds another. In the event of a conflict, the RN therefore brandishes its solution: freedom of voting. This applies, within the group, to all subjects “which touch on the intimate”.
Disagreements over end of life
This should be the case, at the start of the school year, for the end-of-life bill introduced by the government. On this subject, again, positions vary. Several parliamentarians are in favor of extending the Claeys-Leonetti law, or even the implementation of assisted suicide. This is the case, for example, of Somme deputy Jean-Philippe Tanguy. Last year, at a group meeting, Marine Le Pen, opposed to a change in legislation, reiterated her position: “Before euthanasia, it is better to develop palliative care.” Not everyone was convinced. So, rather than exhausting herself in managing line differences, the president of the RN group evacuated the subject: it will be freedom of vote.
The same recipe is also applied on a larger scale. On societal issues, the National Rally does not offer its own vision or grand narrative. On all subjects that touch on the intimate, Marine Le Pen is calling for a referendum. Leave it to the popular decision rather than deciding in its name. This is a great parade, with the double advantage of avoiding addressing abrasive and divisive issues, including within one’s own camp. “But isn’t it the role of a political party to propose a complete social project?” asks a right-wing executive. In fact, since 2017, the National Rally has built its “alternative” strategy, like the inverted mirror of Macronism, relying on two pillars: purchasing power and the fight against immigration. But anti-Macronism is not enough to constitute a societal project, and on these questions, the RN in fact maintains a very superficial approach.
Freedom to vote, the easy solution
“This is not one of the main concerns of the French, look at the polls, there are no strong demands on these questions”, evacuate the frontist executives of the Assembly. “Marine Le Pen acts as if these questions were secondary, whereas they are ontological questions, which affect our vision of society, retorts a former traveling companion. It is paradoxical to impose group discipline on the question retreats but to allow freedom on subjects that touch the very heart of who we are.”
Eager to bring together more widely in the perspective of 2027, Marine Le Pen skillfully puts aside any potentially divisive subject. These subjects, moreover, are not part of his obsessions. “She has a form of indifference for these questions, judges a former close friend. She considers that everyone is free to do what they want and, basically, she has an absolute disinterest in these almost philosophical subjects. where she is able to become passionate about subjects like the euro or pensions.” Especially since his party has suffered, in the past, from disagreements on societal issues. After all, why take the risk? “We are not going to be at the forefront on flammable subjects either,” summarizes an elected official. “It’s true that we are walking on eggshells on these subjects, because it is on these social debates that our “Our opponents are trying to trap us, so we do the minimum. But look at the polls: it works.”