It has emerged that the leader of France's hard-right Front National party (FN) may have been using a fake Twitter account to discretely convey her party's message.
Out of the five voting-intention surveys conducted this year (2015) ahead of the 2017 French presidential elections, three have put Marine Le Pen ahead of the polls. Le Monde claimed on Friday (04 September) that Le Pen has been using the pseudonym Anne Lalanne to tweet to her followers.
Le Pen 'behind the Twitter account'
The 'fake' account has apparently been used to send 800 tweets to just as many followers. While Le Pen, the daughter of FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, has rejected the allegations, sources close to the party leader told Le Monde that she was indeed behind the Twitter account.
The FN's number one already has an account in her name, @MLP_officiel, with around 681,000 followers. But according to the French daily, the page that transcribes Le Pen's media appearances and speeches is actually manned by close colleagues – not the leader herself.
According to the sources, however, the FN founder's daughter is the one behind the Anne Lalanne account. "She looks at Twitter a lot," a source said. "Especially in the car."
Anne is Le Pen's second name, and Lalanne is her mother Pierrette's maiden name. According to Le Monde, the 'fake' Twitter handle @enimar68 is an anagram of 'Marine', with the '68' relating to her birth year of 1968.
Further proof of her involvement, according to the French daily, is the fact that the first Twitter accounts that Anne followed are those of Le Pen's partner Aliot, Le Pen's confident, and a party financial backer Frédéric Chatillon, as well as Le Pen's publisher, Philippe Grancher, who has published two of her books.
A majority of the accounts that Anne follows are those of FN MPs, vocal FN supporters and journalists.
Immigration, racism and Twitter
Tweets from Anne focus on the European Union, immigration, insecurity, the French press and the country's main parties – the Republicains and the Parti Socialiste – but her feed reveals that she has mostly reposted many of FN's tweets from top officials.
Since creating her account in April 2013, Anne has retweeted Florian Philippot, Le Pen's number two, 36 times. Tweets included a photo of young "Roms" (Roma) with a gun taken by Philippot himself during a press conference, a reference to the "racailles" (a term used to describe "scum" made pejorative because, to French-speakers, it is known to describe young men of Arab origins) and the nomination of a candidate of the French Muslim Democrats.
In this latter tweet, Philippot said: "A candidate of the French Muslim Democrats was elected on an UDI (Union of Democrats and Independents) list, party linked to the UMP (former name of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy's party). The multiculturalism loop is closed!"
Making up just under 10% of Anne's feed (69) are tweets by deputy leader and Marine Le Pen's domestic partner, Louis Aliot. A number of Aliot's tweets speak about the government's integration plans to combat discrimination – which the leader described as staggering – as well as the fact that some postmen in Paris refused to distribute FN leaflets.
In May 2013, following riots in Stockholm, Sweden and the murder of Lee Rigby in London, UK, Anne also retweeted a notable post by Le Pen's special advisor, Eric Domard – whose Twitter biography includes: "Practising Laic – French(men) are first served". In it, Domard said: "Multicultural societies are by essence prone to multiple conflicts".
In line with the FN's view on immigration and the question of the Roma community in France, in Novermber 2013, Anne tweeted: "A Roma camp threatens Paris' central heating supply. (Things are getting) better and better".