French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has been accused of plagiarising defeated rival François Fillon in a speech she delivered on May 1, 2017.
It appeared that Le Pen had copied parts of a fiery speech she made on Monday from one made about two weeks earlier by one-time conservative candidate Francois Fillon – the former frontrunner who was eliminated in the first round of the election.
On April 15, 2017, in an address, Fillon had made specific mention of the geography of France’s borders, paid tribute to the French language and spoken of a third “French way” for the 21st century.
While Ms Le Pen is expected to face centrist Emmanuel Macron in the final round on Sunday, the similarity in the speeches was pointed out by the Ridicule TV YouTube channel, initially set up by Fillon’s supporters to attack Mr Macron before the first round of voting that saw Mr Fillon eliminated from the contest.
Reacting, Florian Philippot, the vice president of Le Pen’s National Front (FN) party, said it was “not plagiarism”, but “a nod to a short passage in a speech about France”.
In the speech, Le Pen mentioned France’s “three maritime borders” with the Channel, North Sea and the Atlantic. That same phrase was also used by Fillon. She also described France’s borders and ties with “Italy, our sister” – again a phrase used in Fillon’s April speech.
Le Pen then used a quote from the early 20th-century French prime minister Georges Clemenceau: “Once a soldier of God, and now a soldier of Liberty, France will always be the soldier of the ideal.” The Clemenceau quotation was used, word-for-word, by Fillon.
The Liberation newspaper said that what was supposed to have been a key speech for the second phase of voting in the election became instead a focus of ridicule for social media users.