• France's news in English

French far-right plagued by shady candidates

The Local · 18 Mar 2015, 16:34

Published: 18 Mar 2015 16:34 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Opinion polls suggest the far-right National Front party will top the polls in the first round of elections in French counties known as "departements", which take place on Sunday.
It will mark another significant victory for Marine Le Pen, whose efforts to soften the image of her anti-immigration, anti-EU party, continue to pay off.
Le Pen and co have worked hard to "de-demonize" the National Front by rooting out candidates with a shady past or who are liable to the odd racist view or two.
Yet her efforts can only go so far as stories once again emerge in the run-up to Sunday's ballot of skeletons emerging from the closets of several far-right candidates. Other candidates appear to have simply spoken their views, forcing the party's PR team into overdrive.
For the party's founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been convicted of hate speech it's no big deal.
"We have 8,157 candidates, I believe. Of course a few of them will be peculiar," he said in an interview with French channel BFM TV. 
We'll let you decide for yourselves.
Here is a list of five National Front candidates whose faces have been plastered over the press for one reason or another in recent days - and it's a lot more than just racism and bigotry.
Damien Hameau-Brielles, the main candidate for Mayenne in the north west of France, posted a picture of himself on Facebook (see above) holding a gun to the head of a puppet version of President François Hollande. 
While the picture, published in 2012, has long since been deleted, another post was dug out from the past where he made racist jibes about what he considered to be the laziness of "the blacks".
2. The suspected Pedophile?
The candidate for l'Allier, central France, is 23-year-old Arnaud Couture - who has been investigated this month for the possession of child pornography. The politician confirmed the indictment but told local media that he did not wish to discuss it. As it is too late to withdraw his candidacy, he has said that he will immediately resign if he wins the election. In the image below, Couture is on the far left.
3. The anti-Muslim
While the National Front doesn't have a candidate of its own in the Charente-Maritime department, western France, it is backing openly anti-Muslim Dominique Droin. The Frenchman has posted documents online about how Muslims have taken over France "without being armed, but through the stomachs of their wives". His paper pointed out that Muslim children "were multiplying much faster than children native to France".
4. Praising a Halal fire
Sophie Touvron is running for Torcy (Seine-et-Marne), east of Paris. She once shared a news story on her Facebook account about an explosion at a Halal butchery, adding the words "TOO GOOD". The L'Express newspaper reported that the explosion and subsequent fire left two people injured, one seriously. 
5. Call to suicide
In February, FN candidate in Narbonne, southern France, Fabien Rouquette took his regular Facebook postings a step too far when he shared a text-based image saying "Socialists, Communists, Muslims! Do something for the world and commit suicide." One of his colleagues in the area, Michèle Boisset, liked the post and added the comment "What a beautiful dream!" reported L'Express.
Story continues below…
Lastly, another candidate of note is Jeanne Meyniel in Cantal, south-central France. She is 99 years old, a far cry older than the average age of candidates nationwide at 51.
A long-time advocate of the National Front, she told the Le Point newspaper that when she was asked to run for deputy councillor she said "why not? And if I am elected, then I will do it. I have things to say."
Incidentally, the National Front has one of the youngest average ages when it comes to councillor candidates at 49.4 years. 
This year's revelations about party members echo similar findings in recent years. In 2013, local election candidate Anne-Sophie Leclère was expelled after saying she would prefer to see black minister Christiane Taubira minister "swinging from the branches rather than in government".
She was jailed for nine months last year. 
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available