France polls: Le Pen accused of plagiarising Fillon’s speech

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France polls: Le Pen accused of plagiarising Fillon’s speech

Paris, May 2 (IANS) French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is facing accusations of plagiarism after a speech she made resembled parts of an address delivered by her defeated rival Francois Fillon just two weeks earlier.

Several sections of her speech on Monday in Villepinte, north of Paris, appear to repeat almost word-for-word comments Fillon made in an address on April 15, BBC reported.

An official of her National Front (FN) party said she had made a “nod” to Fillon and it showed she was “not sectarian”.

Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in the final round on May 7.

The similarity in the speeches was pointed out by the Ridicule TV YouTube channel, initially set up by Fillon’s supporters to attack Macron before the first round of voting that saw Fillon eliminated from the contest.

Ridicule TV said the far-right presidential candidate had plagiarised Fillon’s speech “word for word” and set the two speeches side by side, inviting viewers to make up their own minds.

The videos were also posted on Twitter.

On April 15, Fillon, of the centre-right Republican Party, made a speech in Puy-en-Velay in which he made specific mention of the geography of France’s borders, paid tribute to the French language and spoke of a third “French way” for the 21st century.

Le Pen, who has temporarily stepped down as head of the FN party in a bid to widen her appeal, repeated almost verbatim these passages from Fillon’s speech.

Fillon had also quoted from World War I Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and writer Andre Malraux.

In her speech ahead of Sunday’s second round run-off, Le Pen also used the same quotes.

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.

However, Le Pen’s campaign manager, David Rachline, played down the accusations of plagiarism, saying the speech was a form of tribute to Fillon, which “was appreciated” by his supporters.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.