• France's news in English

Marine Le Pen declares open war on her father

The Local/AFP · 8 Apr 2015, 11:03

Published: 08 Apr 2015 11:03 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The leader of France's far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, said on Wednesday she would "oppose" her father standing in upcoming regional elections, as the major rift between the pair deepens.

After a series of controversial comments, including over Nazi gas chambers, Jean-Marie Le Pen's strategy appears to sit somewhere "between a scorched earth strategy and political suicide", daughter Marine said in a statement, adding she would oppose him standing in December's regional polls in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southern France.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the FN, last week reiterated his belief that gas chambers were a mere "detail" of World War II -- an assertion he has made repeatedly over nearly three decades, earning convictions for hate speech along the way.

And on Tuesday this week Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is also an MEP gave an interview to far-right magazine "Rivarol" in which he blasted the government for being full of immigrants or children of immigrants "at all levels".

He also suggested France must work with Russia to save "northern Europe and  the white world" and he defended Maréchel Pétain, the leader of Vichy France, that collaborated with the Nazis during the war.

Up until now Marine Le Pen has distanced herself from her father, claiming that he only speaks for himself, but these latest comments and interviews appear to have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

She also accused her father, the current honorary president, of taking the National Front "hostage" with his provocative comments.

"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.

The leader, who has done much to improve the image of the party, said the current crisis in the National Front was “unprecedented”.

Speaking of her "deep sadness," his daughter Marine said she would call a top brass meeting at the party "to discuss with him how to best protect the political interests of the National Front."

Since taking over the FN in 2011, Marine Le Pen has sought to make the party a more palatable alternative for mainstream voters.

The strategy helped lead the FN to first place in last year's European elections in France and a quarter of the votes in the first round of local polls last month.


French political scientist Bruno Cautres from Sciences Po university tells The Local that Marine Le Pen has to ditch her father before the 2017 presidential elections.

"If Jean-Marie Le Pen is still in the party in 2017, giving these kind of provocative interviews, then it will clearly be damaging to her chances of succeeding in the presidential election.

"She has to do something about him, there's no doubt about that now.

Cautres says however it won't be easy for Marine Le Pen to push her father aside.

"He is still held as a symbol for the old militants of the National Front and he is the honorary president, don't forget," said Cautres.

After a gradual deterioration in their relationship there is a now a veritable "rupture" between father and daughter.

Story continues below…

"The difference is Jean-Marie Le Pen does not have his sights set on power but Marine Le Pen does. She and deputy leader Florian Philippot represent a new party, unlike her father who is a veteran of the Algeria war.

"They have clear ideological differences and this is a real crisis for the party."

Political scientist and FN specialist Virginie Martin told AFP that Marine's latest move could benefit the party's standing in the polls.

Jean-Marie is "a historic figure who always amuses the crowd and... appeals to the historic, hard-line wing of the FN," she noted.

"But at the same time, they're never going to lose that part of the electorate. What's the risk of cutting off Le Pen? You might lose one or two percent but you might gain five or six."

"Think of the section of the (centre-right) opposition UMP that are disenchanted by traditional political parties... for them, the barrier presented by Le Pen has disappeared."

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
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
jobs available