The Cable

Where Will Marine Le Pen Find Campaign Cash?!?!

Will she risk criticism in the French press by going back to Moscow money?

le-pen-again

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far right National Front, is struggling in her search for campaign cash.

Her party apparently is trying to scrape together the 20 million euros it needs for the coming presidential and legislative elections. It received a 9 million euro loan in 2014 from Moscow’s First Czech Russian Bank, but that bank lost its license in July.

National Front treasurer Wallerand de Saint Just told Bloomberg on Thursday, “The loss of the FCRB was a hard blow for us. The Russia loan was a stable resource. Now we are still searching for loans.” French banks, per Saint Just, have refused to fund Le Pen’s party. A U.S. bank apparently balked at lending $20 million back in August.

Le Pen is widely expected to make it into the second round of voting in next spring’s French presidential election. Polls currently indicate she will be “crushed” by center-right candidate François Fillon, but why anyone would listen to polls on anything other than the Italian referendum at this point is beyond us. This is to say that, prior to Thursday’s campaign finance confession, things seemed to be looking up for Le Pen, who is merrily sending out scare tweets about Fillon and proposing to bar undocumented migrants’ children from receiving free education (this is illegal under the French constitution, but no matter).

Le Pen could likely easily find more Moscow money, but may now approach with greater caution. That’s in part because of the risk of criticism from the French press, though it should be noted Fillon also has a penchant for Putin. Moreover, her ties to Russia may also be coming under U.S. scrutiny, at least according to reports Wednesday.

However, Russian money to the National Front is but one of many fronts on which Russia has fortified itself against the liberal West this year. Indeed, on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Defense Ministry, “We can say with certainty: we are stronger now than any potential aggressor. Any.”

And that’s without Le Pen in the Élysée.

Photo credit: Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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