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Opinion
Lionel Laurent

Marine Le Pen’s Plan for Europe Would Be a Gift to Putin

Remolding France into an ideal partner for the likes of Viktor Orban would weaken Europe and divide the West.

A different vision.

A different vision.

Photographer: CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP

When Emmanuel Macron last faced off against far-right foe Marine Le Pen for the French presidency in 2017, her call to follow the U.K. out of the European Union was in tune with the populist times. Yet it failed to win over voters worried about the chaos that would ensue.

A French Brexit is off the menu this time, which has made Le Pen seem more palatable. But what she’s proposing in its place is an EU hollowed out from the inside by France following in the footsteps of Hungary’s Viktor Orban, tearing up German cooperation and breaking unity on Russia. As she and Macron debate ahead of Sunday’s vote, the risks are less extreme than before but the West still has reason to watch — and worry.