Marion Maréchal, the niece of Marine Le Pen, leaves the headquarters of Le Pen's Rassemblement National in Paris on June 10, 2024.

Marion Maréchal, who grew up on the Montretout estate, the Le Pen family’s home in Saint-Cloud, just outside of Paris, knows a thing or two about politics and her family’s legacy. She understands it is unwise to pick a fight with the leader of the French far-right – her aunt, Marine Le Pen – at a time when the Rassemblement National (RN) is winning over 30% of the vote. Consequently, Maréchal, who led another far-right political party, Reconquête!, in the European elections, began on Monday, June 10, to reap the rewards of a campaign during which she remained perfectly cordial with her rivals from the RN. She headed to the RN’s headquarters for a highly publicized one-and-a-half-hour meeting with the party’s leaders Jordan Bardella and Marine Le Pen. It was the latest episode in the long series of break-ups and reconciliations inside the far right’s most famous family, against a backdrop of preparing for the snap parliamentary elections called for on June 30 and July 7.

On Monday, details of the upcoming meeting between Bardella, Le Pen and Maréchal were conveniently leaked to Le Figaro, specifying the time and place. The 24-hour news channels rushed to capture the event, presenting it as the surprise return of the prodigal figure of the Le Pen political dynasty. Maréchal left her family’s party in 2017 due to ideological and strategic disagreement. She rejected its “normalization” on societal questions, criticized its supposedly “leftist” economic policies, and rejected its refusal to form a coalition between the right and the far right. Seven years later, after garnering a mere 5.5% of votes in the European elections, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s granddaughter is back to negotiate an electoral alliance.

After a meeting described as positive by the participants, Bardella and Maréchal took turns boasting to the cameras about a possible “national union.” They claimed this union could lead to the appointment of a far-right prime minister. Bardella specified that the “union” would include those with “a constructive attitude,” explicitly excluding Reconquête! founder Eric Zemmour by name. Maréchal acknowledged this “framework” for discussions with a broad smile. Never mind that Bardella, the big winner of the European elections, did not behave constructively during the campaign – he openly wished for Reconquête! and Les Républicains (right, LR) to score less than 5% of the vote, below the threshold for representation at the European Parliament.

No ‘red line’

“There’s a choice open to me,” explained Maréchal, who promised to integrate her conservative and identitarian ideas into the platform carried by the RN, a party with which she still has many policy disagreements except broadly on immigration. “Marion aims to provide a political outlet for the members, activists and voters of Reconquête!,” explained her campaign manager, the identitarian and former Front National member Philippe Vardon. “Do we want to play a role in this national union that Jordan Bardella talks about, or just watch events go by?”

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