Plagiarism or a ‘wink’? Le Pen lifts conservative’s speech

Latest shocking development in a French presidential campaign

PARIS — Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen lifted verbatim parts of a speech by a former rival in what her critics called plagiarism and she said was a deliberate “wink” to him to woo his conservative voters in France’s presidential runoff Sunday.

The stolen words and casual reaction by Le Pen and her team marked the latest shocking development in a French presidential campaign like no other. Perhaps more surprisingly, there was little sign it would seriously damage Le Pen.

Polls consider her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron the front-runner in the vote, seen as a test of global populism and decisive moment for the European Union.

Le Pen borrowed from a speech delivered last month by Francois Fillon, the former Republicans party candidate, about France’s important role in Europe and the world.

The subject is at the heart of Le Pen’s campaign. She promises to restore French glory, pull France out of the EU and return to the franc currency. She has denounced the effects of globalization on the French economy and culture.

Speaking April 15, Fillon described France as a force reaching out on multiple fronts:

“The English Channel and the North Sea opening onto the Anglo-Saxon world and to the immense northern spaces. … The Atlantic, which has opened us for centuries onto the great sea and brings us adventures. The Mediterranean, the cradle of some of history’s oldest and richest civilizations. … The Pyrenees, first of all, engaging France with that immense Hispanic and Latin universe. The Alps border, with Italy our sister and beyond that central Europe, the Balkans and eastern Europe. … France is something more and much more than an economic, agricultural or military power.”

Le Pen, speaking Monday at a Paris region campaign rally, said:

“The English Channel and the North Sea opening onto the Anglo-Saxon world and to the immense northern spaces. The Mediterranean, the cradle of the oldest and richest civilizations. The Pyrenees, first of all, engaging France with that immense Hispanic and Latin universe. The Alps border, with Italy our sister and beyond that central Europe, the Balkans and eastern Europe. … France is something more and much more than an economic, agricultural or military power.”

Like three of her aides earlier in the day, Le Pen used the word “wink” to describe the extracts copied word for word from Fillon.

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