Marine Le Pen raps footballer Mbappé as France votes


Kylian Mbappé has been vocal about the French election.
Kylian Mbappé has been vocal about the French election.

Marine Le Pen has reprimanded soccer star Kylian Mbappé for his public call to French voters to snub her far-right National Rally party and stop them winning the second round of parliamentary elections. 

Voting is underway in mainland France on Sunday in pivotal runoff elections that could hand a historic victory to Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and its inward-looking, anti-immigrant vision — or produce a hung parliament and political deadlock.

“The French are tired of being lectured and advised on how to vote,”  Le Pen told CNN. 

She added: “Mbappé does not represent French people from an immigrant background, because there are many more of them who live on the minimum wage and cannot afford housing and heating than people like Mr Mbappé.” 

Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen says French voters don’t want a lecture on how to cast their ballots. (EPA PHOTO)

The Real Madrid player has repeatedly commented on the political situation in his home country during UEFA Euro 2024, with France set to face Spain in the semi-final in Munich on Tuesday.  

“It’s a dicey situation. We must not allow our country to fall into the hands of these people,” said the 25-year-old. 

French President Emmanuel Macron took a huge gamble in dissolving parliament and calling for the elections after his centrists were trounced in European elections on June 9.

The snap elections in this nuclear-armed nation will influence the war in Ukraine, global diplomacy and Europe’s economic stability, and they’re almost certain to undercut Macron for the remaining three years of his presidency.

The first round on June 30 saw the largest gains ever for Le Pen’s anti-immigration, nationalist National Rally.

More than 49 million people are registered to vote in the elections, which will determine which party controls the 577-member National Assembly, France’s influential lower house of parliament, and who will be prime minister. 

If support is further eroded for Macron’s weak centrist majority, he will be forced to share power with parties opposed to most of his pro-business, pro-European Union policies.

Voters at a Paris polling station were acutely aware of the the far-reaching consequences for France and beyond.

“The individual freedoms, tolerance and respect for others is what at stake today,” said Thomas Bertrand, a 45-year-old voter who works in advertising.

Racism and anti-semitism have marred the electoral campaign, along with Russian cyber-campaigns, and more than 50 candidates reported being physically attacked — highly unusual for France. 

The government is deploying 30,000 police on voting day.

The heightened tensions come while France is celebrating a very special summer: Paris is about to host the Olympic Games, the national soccer team reached the semifinal of the Euro 2024 championship, and the Tour de France is racing around the country alongside the Olympic torch.

As of noon local time, turnout was at 26.63 per cent, according to France’s Interior Ministry, slightly higher than the 25.90 per cent reported at the same time during the first round last Sunday.

During the first round, the nearly 67 per cent turnout was the highest since 1997, ending nearly three decades of deepening voter apathy for legislative elections and, for a growing number of French people, politics in general.

Macron cast his ballot in the seaside resort town of La Touquet, along with his wife Brigitte. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal voted earlier in the Paris suburb of Vanves.

Le Pen is not voting, because her district in northern France is not holding a second round after she won the seat outright last week. 

The elections wrap up Sunday at 8 pm local time in mainland France and on the island of Corsica. 

Initial polling projections are expected Sunday night, with early official results expected late Sunday and early Monday.

The elections could leave France with its first far-right government since the Nazi occupation in World War II if the National Rally wins an absolute majority and its 28-year-old leader Jordan Bardella becomes prime minister.

with AP