Florian Philippot Closer Marine Le Pen

Florian Philippot is the strategist behind the rebranding du the too much right former National ont a populist, anti-elite movement. Cible don’t mistake him for a moderate


On thé night ns the nous election, Florian Philippot, auto closest adviser à the french far-right dirigeants Marine le Pen, was watching auto results from his apartment conditions météorologiques the Left bank in Paris. Avant dawn, once Donald Trump’s win was not yet official marqué the liberal establishment was beginning to panic, cette tweeted: “Their world is crumbling. Ours is being built.”

Around 8am, Philippot phoned les Pen à discuss thé good news. Elle was in a jubilant mood at thé headquarters of elle party – auto nationalist, anti-immigration Front intérieur – preparing à deliver a speech congratulating Trump. His victory, on promises du trade protectionism et the closing du borders, looked choose a major boost to sa presidential campaign. Meanwhile, a là arrived to take Philippot, thé party’s vice-president, venir the ville of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, 250km indigenous Paris, à lay a wreath at thé tomb du France’s great postwar leader, normal Charles du Gaulle.

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Trump’s success happened à coincide with auto anniversary de the death of de Gaulle, who commander the français resistance versus Nazi Germany. Philippot idolises ns Gaulle: his office, i beg your pardon adjoins le Pen’s, is plastered with ns Gaulle memorabilia – one ns many things that sets him apart as an oddity in a party that has longue regarded aux Gaulle as a traitor pour allowing the structure French colony de Algeria that independence.

Philippot’s elite credentials should oui been autre strike against him within a party that proclaims that loathing ns the establishment. A graduate ns the exclusive Ecole Nationale d’Administration, i beg your pardon produces presidents and prime ministers, Philippot didn’t start out in the Front intérieur in the traditional means – driving around auto countryside sticking choice posters venir fences. Philippot is additionally gay, in a party whose co-founder Jean-Marie ns Pen once called homosexuality “a biological et social anomaly”. And yet, at 35, hey has become thé voice ns the party, that media star, et the first to case Trump’s victory as a sign de a nouveau world order.

After the wreath-laying at aux Gaulle’s tomb, Philippot held a dinner pour 100 party workers et supporters in a adjacent restaurant. At the end du the meal, v crumpled document napkins strewn across the table, cette told his guests the Trump’s win verified that the people were “throwing la fin their chains”. France would it is in next, cette said, promising that Marine ns Pen would success the français presidential election in May.


“Everything that yesterday to be said to be pas possible or improbable, has today become highly possible et highly probable,” cette said. Thé polls showed that even si Le pen reached the critique run-off, elle could never win, cible that no matter. Chants de “Marine président!” classement out around thé room. Le Pen would certainly “make france great again”, Philippot promised, and everyone stood up à sing the Marseillaise.

If les Pen is now the closest elle has ever been venir the french presidency, it is in large part under to elle working partnership v Philippot, whose arbitre she trusts soja completely that elle rarely bring away a decision there is no consulting him. “They have an intellectual bond; they space in complete agreement conditions météorologiques basic principles,” said bertrand Dutheil du La Rochère, an adviser to les Pen that is also fermé to Philippot.

It is Philippot that is attributed with executing les Pen’s plan to sanitise the Front National’s image, tone under its rhetoric and widen its electoral support – banishing open expression of anti-semitism, racism et xenophobia, even if those old obsessions toujours bubble away under thé surface. Philippot’s single-minded ordre to control thé party line and root the end dissenters has dirige his concurrent inside thé party venir liken him venir Robespierre, auto ruthless français revolutionary leader.

So zealous was Philippot’s périple to transform thé party’s la peinture that cette encouraged ns Pen to expel elle father, Jean-Marie ns Pen, from auto party cette co-founded in 1972. Si the outspoken, racist, Holocaust-denying 83-year-old Papa le Pen to be a blight conditions météorologiques the prior National’s electoral prospects, Philippot styled himself as its salvation. But ont the Front denchères attempts à take auto presidency, thé adulation, fear et controversy the Philippot provokes oui opened new rifts inside auto party.


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Florian Philippot nation homage at thé tomb de his idol, Charles aux Gaulle in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, in 2014. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty ImagesSince thé Front National’s modest starts in auto 1970s – when Jean-Marie ns Pen was chosen ont the face of a fledgling nationalist party whose faire un don ranged indigenous neo-fascist street-fighters to ex-members du the wartime collaborationist Vichy regimen – the organisation has been engaged in repeated efforts to repackage itself and broaden that is appeal to voters. Philippot and Marine le Pen’s bid to win power by turning economically to thé left and courting a disgruntled lower middle class is just the latest of many rebranding exercises. Marqué within the le Pen family, cracks room showing. Les Pen’s niece, marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the party’s 27-year-old MP in the hard-right southerly heartlands de the Vaucluse, is a devout Catholic et a solennellement social conservative that believes that thé party must not soften that is message.

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The challenge parce que le Marine le Pen is thé delicate balance of broadening the Front National’s very nice one without shedding its main point ideals. The num one reason voters choose auto Front national is toujours its anti-immigration, “anti-Islamisation” un message – keeping France pour the French. At les Pen’s rallies, one chanter from supporters drowns out tous others: “On est à la maison nous!” – This is our country!

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Philippot endroit Marine les Pen in pouvez 2009 nous Paris’s far-right dinner-party circuit, whereby guests discussed national sovereignty et identity national politics over home-cooked food et fine wine. At auto time, auto Front denchères was mired in one de its sporadic crises. Ce had haemorrhaged voters to the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential and parliamentary voter of 2007, was sauce soja in debt that it was forced venir sell that party headquarters, and was estimate to importer only 6% du the voter in auto European voter the complying with month. Marine le Pen hoped venir take over thé Front National and transform ce from elle father’s fringe protest car into a group that could une day win power. Cible in a dilute party calmer defined by its image of racism and xenophobia, elle needed technocrats and policy wonks venir develop sa ideas.

Philippot was 28, studious et shy, auto son de teachers from a quiet suburb of the northern city of Lille. A junior civil servant in the interior ministry, cette belonged to thé establishment detested de the far-right. He had never ever voted former National, but he saus that from childhood, cette had nursed a passion for French denchères sovereignty. His parents had encouraged an early fascination with politics by taking him venir watch electoral counts et to auto childhood loger of General aux Gaulle. Philippot likewise had a visceral loathing ns the european Union. Aged 11, hey burst into tears when france voted à la the chaleur de la masculoration Treaty that paved auto way for the creation of a single European currency. “I was really young, marqué emotionally I’d understood that ours coins, francs, were going to disappear et I uncovered that yes, really sad. It was a little irrational and emotional, it wasn’t very political, but I was interested in it. It was the tons campaign i really followed,” cette told me.

Leaving the eurozone et the European union was an obsession. At thé Ecole Nationale d’Administration, Philippot refuse to faire the customary internship at any ns the European union institutions, saying: “I think about them à be illegitimate and anti-democratic”, et instead spent 4 months at the français embassy in Copenhagen. Partner said cette flinched whenever he saw a europe flag flying nous a auditeur building in France.

Earlier, as a college student at Paris’s top entreprise school, HEC, he had backed thé 2002 presidential campaign de Jean-Pierre Chevènement, the structure Socialist minister who ran on année anti-EU ticket. Philippot has constantly denied hey himself was ever leftwing. “I’ve never taken into consideration myself either of the left or of the right. I always considered that attribuer dead with the end of the cold war,” cette told me. Hey caught sight du Marine les Pen nous a la télé politics démontrer in 2007, inveighing against the European union in the pugnacious saint she honed ont a lawyer, warning the government venir “stop taking the people parce que le fools”. Philippot agreed v everything she said. Hey had venir meet her.

Philippot sought the end Paul-Marie Coûteaux, a conservative MEP who had championed the cause première of french sovereignty and independence native Europe, and introduced himself at a book-signing. Before long, cette was help Coûteaux with his website. Coûteaux knew that Marine ns Pen was looking à la young talent, et invited lock both à dinner.

Le pen described their meeting as an intellectual love at first sight. Shortly they to be finishing each other’s sentencesLe pen feared someone through Philippot’s civil service background would make à la a very dull dinner companion. But over veal et olive casserole at Coûteaux’s antique-stuffed left banque apartment, elle found the charming. Coûteaux, who eventually fell out with both ns Pen et Philippot, explained their meeting as pure alchemy. Philippot had pored over le Pen’s autobiography, gripped passant par her accounts du how, when she was eight, her home to be hit through 20kg ns explosives intended to kill her father, et how teacher at lécole called the les Pen girls “daughters of a fascist”. He told her: “I admirer what you do, I’d like venir be useful venir you.”

“Things automatically gelled between us, both conditions météorologiques a human being level et politically,” Philippot told me. “She is very direct, there’s ne sont pas pretence.” les Pen defined their meeting as a kind de intellectual love at sapin sight. Quickly they were finishing each other’s sentences.

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“I think there to be instantly a genuine ideological closeness in between them,” stated Jean-Yves ns Gallou, a veteran far-right thinker et civil servant who had quit auto Front national in the 1990s and later functioned with Philippot at the interior ministry. Ns Gallou was the only colleague Philippot told of his rencontrer with les Pen – et the only une who knew about his intense and secretive role ont her advisor à la two years while hey was still a civil servant. Séparément from auto fact that ce was against thé law à la him venir keep his ministry job and work à la a political party, cette had to consider the FN’s toxic reputation.