Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate, said on Saturday that she would name a former rival and fellow Euroskeptic as her prime minister if elected, in a new effort to broaden her appeal and defeat her centrist opponent, Emmanuel Macron, in the second round of the country’s elections on May 7.
Ms. Le Pen said she had reached an agreement with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a right-wing politician who shares her distrust of the European Union and globalization and who gathered 4.7 percent of the vote, or nearly 1.7 million ballots, in the election’s first round. Ms. Le Pen gathered 21.3 percent.
Ms. Le Pen, sitting with Mr. Dupont-Aignan at a news conference in Paris, praised him as a “patriot” and said that together they would present a “common project” to help them “claim the patriotic and republican victory that our country needs.”
“We must wrest our country from finance, from submission, from the great whirlwind of globalization that will carry us away if we confront it without knowing how to protect ourselves,” she said.
Mr. Dupont-Aignan’s endorsement was first announced on Friday, amid the political fallout of the resignation of the interim leader of the National Front, Ms. Le Pen’s party, because of comments he made in 2000 praising a Holocaust denier and expressing doubt that the Nazis used poison gas to murder Jews.
Mr. Dupont-Aignan, who heads a right-wing party called Debout La France, or “Stand Up, France,” does not bring with him a substantial number of voters, and most of his supporters were already expected to choose Ms. Le Pen in the second round.
But it is the first time the National Front has entered into a formal alliance with another political party with the hope of forming a joint government, representing an additional step in Ms. Le Pen’s bid to “un-demonize” the party.
Mr. Dupont-Aignan has drawn heavy criticism for his endorsement, especially among politicians on the right who noted his past declarations that his “Gaullist” convictions – meaning his attachment to the political heritage of late president Charles de Gaulle – were incompatible with an alliance with the National Front.
“Nicolas Dupont-Aignan is showing his true face, that of betrayal,” the center-right Republican party said in a statement. The Republican candidate, François Fillon, did not make it into the second round of the elections, and the party has called on its members to vote against Ms. Le Pen.
Ms. Le Pen said the agreement with Mr. Dupont-Aignan had led to “modifications” in her platform. Mr. Dupont-Aignan mentioned, for instance, a “less systematic” use of import taxes. And in a joint statement on Saturday, the two said that leaving the eurozone was not a “prerequisite to all economic policy,” a softening of Ms. Le Pen’s previous position.