Under the account “The masked cats‘, accessible to a few hundred privileged few, hides a certain Marine Le Pen, a supposed and unconditional fan of cats. The presidential candidate does not hesitate to highlight her closeness to animals in her message. She even dedicated one of her fourteen themed booklets landscape to beasts of all stripes. On the agenda: constitutional recognition of the legal status of animals, anti-fraud measures against French and European standards, increased penalties for crimes against animals, etc.
His speeches on animal welfare are not uncommon. “I’ve been calling for an end to unanesthetized slaughter for years.she said on the microphone of France Infoon March 3rd. And I can tell you that animal suffering is thousands of animals being slaughtered alive every day. A long-running fight for sure, but probably interested. “She may not be taking a stance on this issue for the same reasons as animal rights activists.”says Benoit Thomé, President of the Animal Cross association, in reference to the halal ritual slaughter, which is often carried out without anesthesia.
Christophe Marie, spokesman for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, explains that the topic of “slaughter without anesthetic” has long been widely discussed by the extreme right, explaining that it was not always easy to support it politically: “Marine Le Pen was shown faster on this part, which could be a handicap for animal welfare organizations. As soon as a right-wing extremist group appears on an issue, it is not necessarily an advantage. Other candidates have since joined, including Yannick Jadot, who said he supports the practice being banned.
Not specific enough
“If we look at the proposals [de la candidate RN]they can be strong”recognizes Christophe Marie. But according to foundation spokeswoman Brigitte Bardot, the reality is more complex. Marine Le Pen’s commitment to the animal cause has therefore little been reflected in her various tenures. “She has never been very active in animal welfare, either in the National Assembly or in the European Parliament. For example, she did not take part in the work of parliamentarians in the tightening of sanctions for animal cruelty that was debated last year. It supports some amendments but does not take many initiatives.”
In order to measure the commitment of politicians to animals, 29 animal welfare NGOs have joined forces to form “Animal Engagement”. This collective project makes it possible to know which candidates support twenty-two actions considered urgent. Marine Le Pen is proactive in her speeches and hardly gets the average, confirms 58% of the measuresas “the fight against animal cruelty or the fact of “Remove from the list of huntable species those whose populations are declining or threatened”. This ranks the Animal Engagement page seventh out of 12 among the presidential candidates most committed to the measures proposed by NGOs, behind Nicolas Dupont-Aignan but ahead of Éric Zemmour.
The RN leader is also there the average of MPs on the platform “Politics & Animals”, brought to life by the association L214. What disadvantages them is their weak involvement in the regulation of wild, zoo, breeding and circus animals. Contacted by Slate, L214 states that even though his program includes a subsidy project and a measure on slaughter conditions, Marien Le Pen has not done so “No measure to improve agricultural conditions in France, at most the desire not to import products from low-price countries”.
The association also raises questions about its lack of proposals on meat consumption: “So what is the National Assembly candidate waiting for to push for intensive farming and plant-based food democratization, health issues, climate issues, food sovereignty and animal welfare?”
At Animal Cross, Benoit Thomé insists on the lack of concrete commitments compared to the amount of legislative proposals. It sums up: “There is a risk that it will become legalism.” The activist wonders if the origin of this tropism lies in the candidate’s earlier career as a lawyer. “She still has ideas about it, so I can’t say it’s all negative”he admits.
An interest… opportunistic?
86% of the French would like the April 2022 presidential candidates to present measures to improve the condition of animals: a IFOP survey for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation published in February. A figure that rises to 91% among RN supporters, a majority of whom say that the Elysée candidates’ animal welfare proposals could influence their vote.
Christophe Marie is pleased that the consideration of animal welfare in general has evolved in recent years, following the commitment of animal welfare organizations, authors and increased journalistic coverage of the issue. “Politicians have taken up this issue, the candidates are aware that it is not irrelevant to the citizens.” The spokeswoman for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation is doubly shy about speaking. Given Emmanuel Macron’s few commitments on this issue in 2017, he is surprised to see that the majority has allowed some progress in this area.
Conversely, Marine Le Pen’s communication does not guarantee daily engagement in the MP’s hemicycle. Christophe Marie adds for the sake of completeness that elected RNs, particularly in the European Parliament, have even invested in animal welfare. “But like other elected officials elsewhere”he says.
Whether through attitude or through deep devotion, advocacy for the cause of animals has had a significant campaign. And it is doubly important when engaging with Marine Le Pen’s historically popular sociology of voters. “Among the voters who have the highest expectations at the animal level, we find the underprivileged classesexplains Benoit Thomé. Contrary to the speeches sometimes transmitted, it is not about Bobo. This is what Marine Le Pen’s electorate expects, and they seem to have understood it well.