National Front leader Marine Le Pen is facing a potential crisis after declaring war on her own father – the party’s honorary president – after a series of comments he made in a magazine interview.
Mlle Le Pen said she would “oppose” her father’s candidature at any future French elections including the upcoming regionals after she accused him of adopting a policy somewhere between “a scored earth strategy and political suicide.”
M. Le-Pen was hoping to stand for the party in December’s regional elections in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region of Southern France.
But following the repeat of his claims that gas chambers were a mere “detail” of World War II, something which has earned him convictions for hate speech, the rift between father and daughter has grown wider.
Mlle Le Pen has tried to detoxify the brand of the FN and has had some success in removing the label of anti-Semitism which was firmly attached to the party during the time her father was at the helm. With the spate of attacks by Muslims, the party had seen growing support from France’s Jewish population who saw them as the only party prepared to deal with the ‘Islamification’ of France.
In an interview with far-right Rivarol magazine, M Le Pen said the government was full of immigrants or children of immigrants “at all levels”. And he suggested that France must work with Russia to build a ‘Eurosiberia’ to “save the white race”.
He also defended Maréchal Pétain, the leader of Vichy France who collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War sending some 76,000 Jews to concentration camps as well as disbanding elections and reversing the rights of women.
Until now, his daughter has distanced himself from her father, claiming he only speaks for himself. But these comments, which come after more successful election results for the party and high poll ratings for Marine herself in the French Presidential elections, appear to be the final straw.
She accused the honorary president of taking the party “hostage” with his comments and said the current crisis within the National Front was “unprecedented”.
“His status as honorary president does not authorize him to take the National Front hostage with such gross provocations whose goal seems to be to do harm to me but unfortunately is damaging to the whole movement, its leaders, candidates, followers and electors, “ said Le Pen.
Mlle Le Pen said she would call a high level meeting of party officials “to discuss with him how to best protect the political interests of the National Front” and spoke of her “deep sadness” at the situation.