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'Fearless' Le Pen, 85, to fight for re-election

AFP/The Local · 19 Sep 2013, 12:16

Published: 19 Sep 2013 12:16 GMT+02:00

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French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said on Thursday that he planned to run in next year's elections to the European Parliament a month short of his 86th birthday.

The founder and honorary president of the Front National party now led by his daughter Marine Le Pen, explained his decision on Thursday by declaring: "There is no age limit for the fearless."

Le Pen, who has been convicted repeatedly for incitement to racial hatred and Holocaust denial, has been an MEP since 2004 and will be expected to retain one of the seats for South Eastern France, a region in which the FN enjoys greater support than elsewhere.

Since replacing her father as FN leader in 2011, Marine Le Pen has attempted to broaden the party's appeal and the possibility of closer cooperation between the centre-right UMP party and the FN is currently a hot topic in French politics.

Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon exposed deep divisions in the UMP last week when he suggested that party supporters should consider backing the FN in electoral run-offs against the ruling Socialist Party.

"It is always a delight to see one's enemies divided," the elder Le Pen said, ruling out any formal alliance but leaving the door open to a degree of cooperation at local levels.

"We and the UMP are completely incompatible," he added. "They are pro-globalisation, pro-Europe and pro-immigration, we are exactly the opposite.

"So there is no possibility of a UMP-FN accord. In contrast, in (next year's) municipal elections where individual's party labels do not mean so much, it may be possible to reach understandings."

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Le Pen also dismissed the widely-held view that his daughter has forged a more moderate image for the party.

"Nothing has changed, even if Marine is a young woman and I'm an old campaigner," he said. "The political line of the movement has not moved. Extreme clarity, extreme courage -- that is the only extremism I see in us."

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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