Jean-Marie Le Pen, the controversial former leader of France’s Front National, has been suspended from his party over accusations of racism and anti-semitism. Mr Le Pen, who sits as a Member of the European Parliament, has reacted furiously by disowning his daughter Marine Le Pen, the party’s current leader.
Mr Le Pen, who, in 2002 sparked a political row when he won a place in the second round of presidential election voting, has continued to court controversy. He recently repeated his view that the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail” of the second world war. He also said that he had never considered Marshal Philippe Pétain, leader of the collaborationist Vichy government, “a traitor,” the Guardian has reported.
The 86 year old veteran of French politics, who has served as honourary president of the party since his daughter took over as President in 2011, also attended a meeting at the party’s headquarters on Monday morning, held to decide on candidates in the upcoming elections.
When his proposals were voted down by his colleagues he stormed out of the building, refusing to attend a disciplinary meeting that afternoon. “The honorary president, founder of the Front National, believes it is below his dignity to appear before a disciplinary panel when he considers he is perfectly innocent,” he told journalists.
“I am acting in my role as a parliamentarian who is paid to speak. I am speaking on behalf of Jean-Marie Le Pen. I don’t speak on behalf of the FN and haven’t done for the last four years since Marine Le Pen became president of the FN.”
Over the weekend, before the hearing, Marine Le Pen said her father was in “provocation” mode. “I get the feeling that he can’t stand the fact that the FN continues to exist when he no longer heads it,” she said. Mr Le Pen embarrassed his daughter at the party’s recent May Day rally, taking to the stage with his arms outspread just as she was beginning a speech.
A special meeting of FN members will be called within the next three months to discuss whether to strip him of his title of honourary president.
The severe disciplinary action taken by the party was suppose to silence Mr Le Pen. Marine has undertaken a “detoxification” of the party since taking over with significant success: a poll undertaken last month by Oxoda for Le Parisien found that 98 per cent of the FN’s sympathisers saw Miss Le Pen in a positive light, against just 28 per cent who had a positive image of Mr Le Pen. Almost 87 per cent of FN’s sympathisers thought it was time for him to retire from politics.
Far from bowing out, Mr Le Pen has declared war on his daughter. “Yes, I’m being hard on her and I can be much harder. This has only just started,” he told BFMTV.
He has now disowned his youngest daughter, telling reporters “I am ashamed that the president of the Front National has my name and I hope she loses it as soon as possible.” In a dig at Marine he suggested that she could change her name by marrying “her concubine”, her partner Louis Aliot who is a senior FN figure, “or Monsieur Philippot,” Marine’s closest advisor Florian Philippot who was outed as being gay last year.
“I’d rather the president of the FN was no longer called Le Pen,” he continued. “She can be Marine Aliot or Marine Philippot. It would be better. She has betrayed her father and the founder of the FN in an absolutely scandalous way.”
Asked whether he would support his daughter’s Presidential bid in 2017, he replied “No, because if someone with her moral principles led France it would be scandalous.” He said she was worse than Sarkozy’s UMP and Hollande’s French Socialist party because “those adversaries fight you to your face, she is stabbing me in the back”.