Marine Le Pen is facing accusations of plagiarism after a speech she made on Monday resembled parts of an address delivered by Francois Fillon just two weeks earlier.
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.
— Ridicule TV (@RidiculeTV) May 1, 2017
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:
Don't expect Le Pen to lose much sleep over Fillon plagiarism. 1/ Was a deliberate wink to conservatives 2/ Such "nods" usually shrugged off
— Nicholas Vinocur (@NicholasVinocur) May 2, 2017
— Piers Scholfield (@inglesi) May 2, 2017
No need to speak French to see how Le Pen's pompous national identity speech on Monday was ripped off from Fillon. What a phoney. https://t.co/W1BAB4I1am
— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) May 2, 2017
And the comparison with Melania Trump did not go unnoticed:
After Melania Trump copying speech Michelle Obama: #MarineLepen copied speech Fillon in Villepinte: which shows the POVERTY OF THEIR IDEAS
— Marcel H. Van Herpen (@MarcelHVanHerpe) May 2, 2017
— Sim Sim Wissgott (@SimSimWissgott) May 2, 2017
Marine Le Pen parrots Fillon speech, taking a leaf from Melania Trump's book. Ideas are few on the right wing! https://t.co/VYKEm99wZP
— Kevin Gilman (@Meldilorn) May 2, 2017