Paris (AFP) – Jean-Marie Le Pen, the firebrand co-founder of France’s far-right National Front who was eventually kicked out of the party by his daughter, confirmed Thursday he had joined a little-known European extreme right movement.
Le Pen said he was now a member of the Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF), a grouping of European far-right parties, which said the octogenarian had joined on March 22.
“We welcome Jean-Marie Le Pen at a time of revolutionary changes in Europe -– our guide and leader for the oncoming struggles and victories!”, the APF said in a statement on its website, calling him “the epitome” of “ideological coherence and resistance”.
“While the failed old Marxist and liberal policies are disappearing in the East and being questioned in the West, the idea of a Europe of traditions, sovereignties and identity is clearly dawning on the horizon,” it added.
Le Pen, who was elected to the European Parliament on a National Front ticket in 2004 but now sits as an independent, declined to comment on the move.
The APF does not have enough members to constitute a recognised group in the EU’s parliament, meaning its members currently sit in a non-attached capacity.
Among its member parties are the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), Italy’s Forza Nuova and the DSSS in the Czech Republic.
Le Pen was booted out of his own party by his daughter Marine in 2015 for reiterating his view that the Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” of history and for defending France’s collaborationist wartime Vichy regime.
He also has a string of hate speech convictions, including against Muslims and Roma people.
But he clung on to the title of honorary president of the National Front until last month, when Marine changed the party statutes as part of her efforts to rebrand a far-right party long tainted by a reputation for anti-Semitism.
Le Pen, 89, has said he will not stand for re-election in EU parliamentary elections next year.