Just Days Before Final Vote, French Presidential Candidate Plagiarizes Speech

This could be a major setback

The comparisons between far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and Trump continue to stack up. Only instead of plagiarizing a fictional super villain, Le Pen repeated several of the same phrases her rival François Fillon used in an April 15 speech before a lack of first round votes phased him out of the presidential race. At a rally on Monday, Le Pen addressed supporters with a speech about France’s position in Europe, hitting on many of the same points Fillon made earlier in April, The Guardian reports.

Apparently, Le Pen repeated key phrases, calling Italy “our sister,” and referencing France’s coastlines as “three maritime borders.” But the plagiarism kicked into high gear when Le Pen cited the exact same Georges Clemenceau quote Fillon used to bolster his speech. “Once a soldier of God, and now a soldier of Liberty, France will always be the soldier of the ideal,” Le Pen said, echoing Fillon’s tribute to 20th century prime minister Clemenceau.

Le Pen’s team was quick to refute allegations of plagiarism, instead claiming her speech had intentionally referenced Fillon’s. National Front deputy leader Florian Philippot told Radio Classique that Le Pen’s use of similar phrases and quotes served as a “nod and a wink” to Fillon’s statements and were intended to “launch a real debate” about French culture. In a move similar to Trump’s appeal to disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters, Le Pen’s campaign manager David Rachline defended the similarities, telling France’s TV2, “I do think this shout out was much appreciated, even by Mr. Fillon's supporters.”

Heading toward the election’s last televised debate, scheduled for Wednesday, Le Pen faces an uphill battle to regain lost ground. Polls show progressive candidate Emmanuel Macron ahead after securing 24 percent of the first round votes; Le Pen trailed slightly behind in the first round with about 21 percent of the vote. Still, as Americans, we know polls aren’t always as predictive as we’d like to believe. No one can say definitively who will win until French citizens head to the polls to make their final decision on May 7.

Julian Meehan

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RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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