As round one of voting came to a close Sunday night, Marine Le Pen finished alongside President Emmanuel Macron as the two top contenders in the French presidential election.
This is Le Pen's third attempt at the presidency, the far-right candidate running on a platform of restoring French values, fighting for French traditions and bridging the social, territorial, and cultural divides that “have brought our country asunder.”
"I will be a president for all. On the 24th, it is not just a vote of mere circumstance, it is one where people will vote for society, for our civilization," she told supporters after projections suggested she would face off against Macron on April 24.
Exit polls put Le Pen finishing with over 23% of the vote, and Macron getting more than 28%.
The crowd gathered for her acceptance speech was rapt as Le Pen rifled off the kinds of words voters like to hear: That her presidency “will be one where people defend the French language, our civilization, our culture, our way of living, one where people vote to uphold our values, one of a secular society.”
“On the 24th of April, we will see that people will decide on what the future five years will be for France. But it will be much more than that, it will be about Europe, it will be about defense, it will be about migrants, so many topics that I will defend, unwaveringly.”
The 53-year-old also hit on a hot button issue: retirement. Her pledge was to ensure that everyone has a fair one. The issue – which was the possible raising of the retirement age, thus forcing people to work longer – had ignited strikes for weeks on end at the end of 2019 and into the first two and a half months of 2020 before the pandemic took hold.