French National Front expels Jean-Marie Le Pen

Founder of France’s far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, expelled from party following feud

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France’s far-right National Front (FN), was expelled from the party following a feud with his daughter and party’s leader, Marine Le Pen, after an extraordinary party congress on Thursday.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was suspended in May after he repeated his long-held view that the Holocaust was a “mere detail” in history and also exalted Philippe Petain, the French wartime leader who teamed up with the Nazis.

Though Mr Le Pen launched a legal challenge against this suspension, a French court decided to overturn it on July 2, ruling that the right procedure had not been followed, ordering for an extraordinary general meeting to further discuss the fate of the politician.

Ms Le Pen took over as party leader in 2011 and has been in a war of words with her father over the ideology and direction of the party and Jean’s influence on it.

Jean-Marie continues to be one of the most prominent political figures in France and his populist, patriotic appeals have contributed to the campaigning success of the FN.

Marine Le Pen, once in charge of the party, rebranded the party as a moderate right-wing Nationalist party distancing the parties’ image from her father’s ultra-nationalist stance. Jean-Marie has a long history of racism accusations.

Marie expressed disgust for her father recently saying "I had a knot in my stomach every time I heard that Jean-Marie Le Pen was giving an interview."

With the momentum FN gained in the 1986 elections by attaining 10 percent of the vote, the establishment started taking them seriously.

FN’s rhetoric and analysis lost power after the success of Socialist parties and Jacques Chirac’s Socialist leaning party in the 2007 and 2010 elections.

After taking over as party leader, Jean-Marie set the party’s initial course on “detoxification,” eliminating the xenophobic insignia associated with the party in order to broaden its appeal.

Jean-Marie is unhappy with party’s new course, for him removing the toxicity of the party is removing its lifeblood.

"If you stop being the devil, if you 'detoxify', then you become the right wing of the centre right.

"There is no longer a raison d'etre for the FN," Jean Marie commented.

Marie le Pen’s rebranding and “detoxification” has been a success, with popular support within her party and around France. She could possibly be the next president of France.

Last month Marie Le Pen was amongst Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people list.