The first round of voting in the 2017 French presidential election is just days away.
In the race, the two leading candidates are Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, the latter of whom is a far-right politician who has been called France’s equivalent to Donald Trump. Like Trump, she has focused her campaign heavily around deporting illegal immigrants, keeping the country safe from radical Islamic terrorism, preserving a sense of national identity, and returning the country to its former glory. Also like Donald Trump, her campaign has been accused of racism and xenophobia.
But how far does the comparison between Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen go? Are they really that much alike? And does Donald Trumps support Marine Le Pen for president? Here’s what you need to know.
1. Le Pen Has Praised Trump’s Travel Ban
When Donald Trump signed an executive order at the end of January to temporarily suspend immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, he received a fair amount of criticism, but not from Marine Le Pen.
Le Pen said that the actions the U.S. president took were perfectly reasonable.
“It is a temporary measure,” she told CNN. “It targets six or seven countries, countries that of course are responsible for terrorist threats. So I think Donald Trump and his intelligence services wanted to set up criteria and conditions to avoid having potential terrorists enter the United States, where they might commit attacks, the same way that France was the victim of attacks.”
So does that mean France will put into place its own travel ban if Marine Le Pen is elected? Le Pen has not specifically confirmed or denied that, simply saying in that CNN interview that France must remain vigilant.
Steeve Briois, who is a part of Marine Le Pen’s campaign, has suggested that Le Pen would in fact enforce her own version of the travel ban.
“And why not?” he said, according to The Washington Post. “We not living in the word of Care Bears any more. We are in a horrible world.”
When it came to Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to enforce a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” though, Marine Le Pen seemed more skeptical, saying in a TV interview, “Seriously, have you ever heard me say something like that?”
2. Le Pen Has Said She Would Have Voted For Trump
During the 2016 presidential election in the United States, Marine Le Pen made her preference clear.
Last year, Le Pen said that if she were an American, her vote in the 2016 election would go to Donald Trump. She specified that Donald Trump is a “free man” and that she would vote for “anyone but Hillary Clinton,” according to Politico.
In November, after Donald Trump won the election, Marine Le Pen called him to offer her congratulations. She then spoke to the media and praised the incoming president.
“Donald Trump has made possible what was presented as completely impossible,” Le Pen told CNN. “So it’s a sign of hope for those who cannot bear wild globalization. They cannot bear the political life led by the elites.”
Le Pen went on to say that Trump’s win made her feel less isolated in her political beliefs “because of the multi-polar world defended by Donald Trump but also by Theresa May and Vladimir Putin.”
In January, Marine Le Pen traveled to the United States and was spotted at Trump Tower. However, representatives both for Le Pen and Trump said that the two did not have a meeting and that this is not why Le Pen was there, according to The New York Times.
3. They Both Focused Heavily on Immigration in Their Campaigns
During the campaign, Marine Le Pen’s rhetoric on immigration has been similar to Donald Trump’s.
“Just watch the interlopers from all over the world come and install themselves in our home,” Le Pen said in a recent speech, according to The New York Times. “They want to transform France into a giant squat. “But it’s up to the owner to decide who can come in. So, our first act will be to restore France’s frontiers.”
Le Pen went on to ask, “Will we be able to live much longer as French people in France, while entire neighborhoods are being transformed? It is right for us not to want our country transformed into a mere corridor, a giant railway station.”
Le Pen has promised to immediately expel all illegal immigrants from the country and have a moratorium on immigration as soon as she takes office; she says she will reduce legal immigration to 10,000 people per year.
She also recently said that mass immigration itself is a bad thing.
“Mass immigration is not an opportunity for France, it’s a tragedy for France,” she said, according to Breitbart.
4. Le Pen Disagreed With Trump on the Syrian Air Strike
Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump have not always seen eye to eye, however.
Recently, when Donald Trump ordered a missile strike against Syria, Le Pen was critical of the decision, saying that she thought that Donald Trump was not going to make the U.S. into the world’s police.
“I am a little surprised because Trump had said repeatedly that he didn’t intend the United States to be the world’s policeman any longer and that is exactly what he did yesterday,” Le Pen said, according to Reuters.
She also said that the United States should have had more information before ordering an attack.
“Is it too much to ask to wait for the results of an independent international investigation [into Tuesday’s attack] before carrying out this kind of strike?” Le Pen said.
5. Donald Trump Says That Le Pen is ‘Strongest on Borders’
Donald Trump has not explicitly endorsed Marine Le Pen, but he has come pretty close.
On Twitter this week, President Trump made a comment that was interpreted by many as being a prediction that Marine Le Pen will win. Referring to the recent terrorist attack that occurred in Paris, Trump said that the French people will not take much more of this and that it will have a big impact on the presidential election.
Trump later confirmed to The Associated Press that what he meant was that the attack will “probably help” Marine Le Pen.
He also said that Le Pen is “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.”