Marine Le Pen’s aides have defended a speech made by the far-right presidential candidate on Monday following accusations parts were plagiarised from a speech made by her conservative rival Francois Fillon.
Le Pen, who will go head-to-head with centrist frontrunner Emmanuel Macron on May 7, was accused of taking a leaf out of Melania Trump’s book, who was accused last year of lifting parts of a speech delivered by Michelle Obama in 2008.
Florian Philippot, deputy leader of Le Pen’s anti-European Union, National Front (FN) party, said Le Pen’s speech was a “nod-and-a-wink” to Fillon’s earlier discourse in order to “launch a real debate” concerning French identity.
Philippot told Radio Classique the party “completely owned up” to the similarities.
French media highlighted the striking similarities between Le Pen’s May Day speech and the one given by Fillon on April 15 before he was eliminated from the presidential contest.
A video broadcast on social media by a reportedly pro-Fillon account showed segments of the two speeches side-by-side - and the similarities are strikingly similar.
The main similarities:
Le Pen used the following quote from former French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau: “Once a soldier of God, and now a soldier of Liberty, France will always be the soldier of the ideal.” Fillon also evoked that quote at his April 15 rally.
Fillon’s speech described the “Rhine frontier” as “the most open, the most dangerous, also the most promising - a Germanic world we have been so often in conflict with and with which we will yet co-operate in so many ways”. Le Pen described the same “frontier” as “the most promising - a Germanic world we will yet co-operate with in so many ways, as long as we regain the relationship of allies and not of subjects”.
Le Pen described France’s borders and ties with “Italy, our sister” - a phrase also used by Fillon.
Le Pen mentioned France’s “three maritime borders” with the English Channel, North Sea and the Atlantic. Fillon used that same phrase of France’s “three maritime borders” with the English Channel, North Sea and the Atlantic.
Le Pen was criticised for the similarities in the speech:
And the comparison with Melania Trump did not go unnoticed: