Marion Maréchal-Le Pen became the youngest MP in modern French history Sunday when she won a seat in parliament for her constituency of Vaucluse in the southeast.
(She is believed to be the youngest French MP since revolutionary Louis Antoine de Saint-Just won a seat in 1791).
Marion, only 22, is part of the notorious (or, depending upon your point of view, celebrated) Le Pen family, France’s First Family of Fascism, which founded the National Front (FN) party that is vehemently anti-immigration and anti-EU.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marion’s 84-year-old grandfather, founded the Front and led it for decades until relinquishing the top job to his daughter, Marine, last year.
Marine, who ran for president in the April first-round election, also made history of sorts when she scored almost 18 percent of the vote, the highest tally ever for the far-right group.
Ironically, Marine failed to land a parliamentary seat herself in a disputed election in the constituency of Hénin Beaumont in the northern Pas de Calais; she lost by a mere 118 votes to the Socialist candidate and is demanding a recount.
The other FN member to gain a seat in parliament was flamboyant attorney Gilbert Collard in the southern Gard department.
Marion, a law school student at the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas, has no political experience whatsoever, but has charmed French media with her beautiful blonde looks and poise.
Like her aunt Marine, Marion is seeking to craft a softer image from the FN, by largely eschewing the racialist and anti-Semitic rhetoric indulged in by the family patriach in the past.
I am happy to the spokeswoman for [the] French youth that tomorrow will be spearhead new hope in the shape of the National Front, Marion said in the town of Carpentras.
She added, 6.4 million French voters have already joined us and it's just the beginning, in a reference to the support Marine received during her presidential run.
Marine, though bitter over her own loss, gushed over her niece’s triumph, declaring, The new make-up of political life is under way.”
As for Marion, she claims that she entered politics on her own free will. She joined FN when she was only 18 years old.
“In the family, no one is ever pushed. I came to politics spontaneously; there was no obligation. It has to happen naturally, she told a reporter.
Marion’s mother, Yann Le Pen, is Jean-Marie’s youngest daughter.
An article in Time magazine said of Marion: “Intelligent, articulate and exceptionally easy to gaze upon, Maréchal-Le Pen was picked to run for a seat representing the Vaucluse department in southern France — an area that has been anchored emphatically to the right for decades and is receptive to FN positions and candidates.”