The Front National has rebranded itself as National Rally (“Rassemblement National”), while former Republican Transport Minister Thierry Mariani has proposed an alliance between the two largest right-wing parties in France.
The name change was approved by 52 per cent of the party members who voted through an internal consultation at a major conference last weekend, but will be confirmed in a few weeks’ time with an official mail-in ballot, L’Express reports.
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the party and former French presidential candidate, said: “The name must carry a political message. The word ‘national’ must be there imperatively because the nation is the heart of our commitment and our project.”
Le Pen added: “This name must be a rallying cry, a call to all French, wherever they come, as long as they want to write the history of our country with us.”
Bannon in France: ‘History Is On Our Side https://t.co/C2zs8Nqwpw
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The rebranding marked the end of the two-day conference which also saw a speech from former senior advisor to U.S. President Trump and former Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon, who spoke to a fever pitch crowd.
The rebranding may also open up doors to new political alliances after Thierry Mariani, former Transport Minister under former president Nicholas Sarkozy, said the conservative Republican Party should look to form an alliance with Rassemblement National.
Mariani argued that without alliances the party would not be back in power and that current French President Emmanual Macron had attracted centrists to his party. “Can we come to power on our own, can we constitute a majority without allies, the answer is no,” he said.
“Without allies, we will stay in opposition for a long time. It is time to turn the tables. The National Front has evolved. Watch if an agreement or a rapprochement are possible,” he added.
The Republican Party vote largely collapsed last year after its candidate François Fillon was plagued by a fake jobs scandal.
The two parties have not been total strangers to cooperation in the past either. Both supported the largely popular Manif Pour Tous movement which supported the ideas and values of traditional marriage.