FRANCE

Donald Trump Fans Are Drowning Out Le Pen’s Real French Supporters

As the French election nears, American fans of Marine Le Pen are overwhelming her online support

FRANCE
Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) candidate for president — REUTERS
Apr 30, 2017 at 1:05 PM ET

Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate for the French presidency, has a massive online base of supporters. But, it turns out, lots of them are actually American supporters of Donald Trump, who see similarities between Le Pen’s nativist, anti-immigrant platform and the new US president.

An announcement by the moderator of Reddit’s largest community in support of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen told users on April 28 that “English contents [sic] are forbidden,” and that the subreddit was now “purely French-speaking” in order “to convince undecided voters” rather than serving as another board for fans of President Donald Trump.

English-speaking internet users, generally supporters of  Donald Trump, have become a major force online backing Le Pen, spreading memes, using French election hashtags, and making sure that the conversation remains centered on her candidacy. A Vocativ analysis of the #JeVote hashtag, the leading French hashtag on the day of the election’s first round, found that the most influential users behind the hashtag were American fans of Donald Trump.

An analysis of the subreddit r/Le_Pen similarly found an very large number of English language posts on a board dedicated to a French candidate. On April 25, two days after the first-round vote that saw Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron advance, Vocativ looked at the 999 most recent posts on the Le Pen subreddit. We found that 781 of those posts were written in English, while only 216 were French. One post was written in German, while the last post’s language could not be determined. One post asked users “how do we reach out to actual French people?” A user answered that the presence of English was a turn-off.

Following the moderator announcement, of the 60 posts published to r/Le_Pen, 54 were written in French, and only six in English.

Le Pen’s support network in America extends beyond the internet, as reports show that she enjoys the assistance of powerful donors and politicians in the US.