France’s Front National, denied loans by all French banks, has reached out to Russian banks to borrow the €25 million ($27.7 million) it needs to pay for the 2017 election campaign, its treasurer has said.
Speaking after party leader Marine le Pen had officially declared her candidacy for the 2017 presidential election, Wallerand de Saint Just confirmed that the FN had been unable to get any loans from banks in its home country.
“I will look for funds where I know I might get them,” Saint Just said in a telephone interview. “I found some financing there in 2014, so yes I am going to try again.”
The FN borrowed nearly €10 million from the First Czech Russian Bank in 2014 to finance its campaigns, Saint Just said.
In December 2014, Marine Le Pen justified tapping funds from a Russian bank, saying she was “constrained” by the fact that she failed to find a lender in any other country. In May, she visited Moscow and met with the Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin.
Marine Le Pen made her candidacy for the 2017 French presidential election official on TF1 television on Feb. 8.
“I am the candidate of the truth; I do not come to explain that we can change everything without changing anything,” she said in the televised announcement.
“I think the French political life needs truth, courage, people who believe in what they stand for. I do not see a lot of politicians who are in this situation.
“The state must be respected outside, and be peaceful inside. There is a lot of work to be done, because the government has let the situation deteriorate and has let conflicts multiply within our country.”
Her tone, as noted by the controlled media, was considerably less confrontational than before, and a new poster campaign slogan La France apaisée (“France pacified”) has been widely interpreted as an attempt at reconciliation with the conservative bloc of voters whom she must win over if she is to succeed in the 2017 elections.
She went on to say that if elected president, she would “enter into negotiations with the European Union” about the euro and Schengen, and hold a referendum for or against continued EU membership.
This negotiation would, she said, focus on “four essential topics: economic sovereignty, banking sovereignty, territorial sovereignty, that is the Schengen agreement, and legislative sovereignty,” in other words, the ability of France to control its own economy and borders.
Le Pen explained that France needed banking sovereignty to prevent the EU from meddling in economic decisions in France’s interests, and that she “wants out of Schengen to stop this monstrous migration crisis we are experiencing.”