How Bolloré, the ‘French Murdoch’, carried Le Pen’s far right to the brink of power

French tycoon Vincent Bolloré has put his sprawling media empire at the service of the country’s nationalist right, precipitating a rightward shift in French politics. Pulling strings from behind the scenes in the manner of Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire corporate raider has orchestrated an alliance of bitter right-wing rivals in the run-up to Sunday’s legislative elections, bolstering the far-right National Rally’s chances of victory.

When conservative leader Eric Ciotti plotted his startling alliance with Marine Le Pen, shattering decades of Gaullist tradition, the head of Les Républicains (LR) consulted none of his senior party colleagues – not even Nicolas Sarkozy, the last of his political family to serve as French president.

Instead, the morning after President Emmanuel Macron called a snap election on June 9, Ciotti paid a visit to Bolloré, the billionaire corporate raider who has built a sprawling media empire precisely to engineer such an alliance.

The purpose of the visit, revealed by French daily Le Monde, was to “orchestrate Ciotti’s rallying behind the National Rally (RN)” – and to prepare for the backlash it was certain to provoke.

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