Le Pen plagiarises speech in 'wink' to Fillon backers

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen used chunks of a speech by defeated centre- right nominee Francois Fillon, word for word, during a rally, in what her campaign said was an attempt to woo the former prime minister's voters.

The plagiarism, which set off a flurry of comments on media and social platforms yesterday, appears to have first been noticed by Ridicule TV, a pro-Fillon channel broadcast through Facebook and Twitter.

At a rally on Monday in Paris, Ms Le Pen went off on an ode to France's geography, and how it links the country to cultures from around the world from "the immense Hispanic and Latin world" to "Italy our sister", and then boasted about how people from Mexico to Shanghai seek to learn French.

But it was quickly pointed out that the passage was identical to a Fillon speech made on April 15 in central France.

Ms Le Pen's campaign manager called it a "wink" to Mr Fillon's supporters.

"There were some interesting elements," Mr David Rachline said on France 2 television. "I think this little wink was appreciated, including by supporters of Mr Fillon."

Mr Fillon took 19.9 per cent in the first round and both Ms Le Pen and Mr Emmanuel Macron, her rival in the May 7 run-off, have sought to win over his disappointed voters.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Le Pen plagiarises speech in 'wink' to Fillon backers'. Print Edition | Subscribe