Marine Le Pen, the far-right head of France's National Front facing a runoff election against centrist Emmanuel Macron in the May 7 French presidential elections, appears to have plagiarized massive stretches of a Monday speech from defeated Republicans candidate François Fillon.
Damning video from Ridicule TV shows long passages from Le Pen's speech on Monday were ripped nearly verbatim from a mid-April speech by Fillon, whose campaign took a similarly harsh view of immigration and foreigners but without the added baggage of National Front's roots in the anti-Semitic extreme right. Stretches of Le Pen's speech are so blatantly similar to Fillon's that even an individual who did not speak French would immediately recognize they're saying the same thing.
French papers including Libération and Le Monde immediately jumped on the apparent plagiarism. Le Monde published a detailed side-by-side of the two speeches, showing Le Pen appeared to have cribbed stretches of the speech on borders, France's status as a beacon of freedom and prosperity around the world, its appeal as a tourist destination and on the supposed threat foreign "totalitarian" ideologies pose to France.
David Rachline, Le Pen's campaign director, could not name who authored Le Pen's speech but told Le Monde it was an intentional "nod" to Fillon's supporters, who Fillon told to vote for Macron in order to stave off a National Front victory.
With the origin of the speech unclear, it is possible Le Pen was deliberately or unintentionally sabotaged by one of her staffers. It's a terrible time for such a misstep; Macron is seen as a member of the neoliberal elite and is not widely beloved by the electorate, but Le Pen's rise has sufficiently spooked French political leadership to rally en masse against her, making Macron the heavy favorite to win.
May 1, 2017, 9:49 p.m. EST: This article has been updated.