French interior minister warns over Le Pen danger


France’s powerful Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Sunday issued a stark warning over the danger of far-right figurehead Marine Le Pen winning the presidency in the next election, while burnishing his own ambition to succeed Emmanuel Macron in 2027. A sequence of bold statements by Darmanin have rocked French politics over the summer holiday period and, as the elite return from vacation, turned eyes firmly toward the 2027 presidential poll even though it remains years away. Darmanin, still only 40, heads what is now a super ministry of the interior, which also has responsibility for France’s overseas territories that span the globe, and has carved out a niche as a tough-talking right-wing figure.

In a sign of his ambition, he invited some 700 people including a dozen ministers to the northern town of Tourcoing — where he was once mayor and which served as his springboard into national politics — for an afternoon rally fuelled by the beer, sausages and chips that are the pride of the region. “We are here to defend the results of the president of the republic who has done a lot. There are four years left and we still, I think, have a lot to do,” he said as the rally opened. “And then we are also here to say that there is a problem. Obviously, we cannot give Marine Le Pen an inexorable path to power,” said Darmanin, who last week told a French newspaper that it was “quite probable” Le Pen could win the presidency.

Darmanin has in recent weeks warned that Macron’s centrist faction needs to take note of the “popular classes” if it is to have a chance of continuing his legacy in 2027. “People are asking for much more security, they are asking for better control of immigration, for secularism to be reaffirmed.” “We need to explain this better and I am part of this criticism,” he added. Le Pen lost to Macron in the run-offs of the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections, but analysts believe that 2027 will give her and the far right its best ever chance of winning power in France.

Polls show public concern growing over issues including immigration, security and the cost of living that her National Rally (RN) party have shown increasing confidence in seizing upon. Darmanin’s sudden firing of the gun for the 2027 campaign has not won universal approval even from within Macron’s faction, in particular from those on the left in what is still a broad-based movement. “2027 is quite far away,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne acidly responded last week. French media have repeatedly noted the icy relations between Darmanin and Borne, who kept her job in a recent reshuffle despite the interior minister said to have been highly keen on replacing her.__Daily Times