Who is Marine Le Pen and what does she stand for?

Marine Le Pen: 'The division between left and right is an illusion'BBC

For the past four decades in France, far-right politics has been a family affair. Marine Le Pen is the youngest daughter of the veteran FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, whom she ejected from the party in 2015 for his views on the Holocaust. Her move away from her father's more unashamedly nationalistic views have earned her a reputation as a moderniser. However, to her critics she is cut from the same cloth, having ostensibly made just a few cosmetic changes to the FN.

Who is Marine Le Pen?

MEP Marine Le Pen is the leader of a rejuvenated National Front (FN) and is expected to emerge with the largest share of the vote in April's first round of presidential elections in France. Riding a wave of populism with an anti-immigration stance and a message of robust French Nationalism, Le Pen, however, remains an outsider and unlikely to win the second round of elections due to be held in May.

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Marine Le Pen first joined the FN at the age of 18 in 1986, being first elected to office 1998 as the regional councillor Nord-Pas-de-Calais, an area where deindustrialisation in former coal mining areas and migration are key issues. In 2003 Le Pen became vice-president of the FN and in 2011 she became the party's leader.

Marine Le Pen and her estranged father Jean Marie Le Pen, founder of the party she now leadsGetty Images

What are her policies and outlook?

Le Pen may have pushed her father from the party but she has retained his outlook on immigration. CNN reports she wishes to see legal immigration to France slashed from 200,000 to 10,000 entries each year in France. She is also campaigning to have public services currently available to migrants limited.

The FN leader's economic platform in the 2017 elections is fiscally conservative. Her policies of preserving France's extensive social safety net resonate with blue-collar workers who view globalisation as a threat to their livelihoods.

Le Pen also holds a series of anti-European Union views – on the fringes of the French political spectrum they, nevertheless feed into her isolationist, Gaulist global outlook. She has said she would call a referendum on French membership of the European Union if she were elected in May and would lead the campaign to leave. Le Pen also wants to leave Nato. She has praised Britain's move to leave the European Union calling it a "the first real blow to the old world order".

Le Pen has also said she would look to remove France from the Euro creating a "new franc" which she claims would help France retain control of its borders. In a similar vein, Le Pen has said she wants to see an end to dual citizenship for French citizens from nations outside of Europe – excluding Russia.

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