Far-right leads polls: France Elections National Front

Published: December 7, 2015

Far-right leads polls: France Elections National Front, France’s National Front (FN), a kind of father-to-daughter family party, was co-founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 1970s. It was popular under his leadership, however he was convicted several times on charges of racism or inciting racial hatred.

When Jean-Marine took over the party’s leadership in 2011, she worked to banish the face of the FN’s far-right past.

For example, as Stratfor points out, “she maintained the party’s stance opposing immigration, but she focused her criticism of immigrants on economic issues rather than racial terms.”

But her attempts to re-brand the party were never going to sit well with its firebrand founder.

Having led the party since 1972, Jean-Marie Le Pen made his mark on the French political scene. Out of five presidential attempts, he came the closest to the top job in 2002, making it to the second round of the elections, before losing out to Jacques Chirac.

Comments he made about the Holocaust have been a constant source of embarrassment for Marine.

“I am inclined to say that the gas chambers were a detail of the World War II history, it’s clear,” he said.

Last June (2014), she acted to distance herself from her father’s comments about a French-Jewish singer, which seemed to refer to concentration camp incinerators.

The final straw came with an interview in the far-right magazine Rivarol last April in which Jean-Marie defended his Holocaust comments, as well as WWII French leader of the Vichy regime Pétain and referred to Spanish-born Prime Minister Manuel Valls as an “immigrant.”

His interview appeared to be a counter-attack on his daughter’s more conciliatory rhetoric on the subject of immigration.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was eventually suspended from the party he co-founded.

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