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French court allows Le Pen to rejoin the party

A French court on Thursday cancelled the suspension of veteran far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen from the National Front party which he founded.

French court allows Le Pen to rejoin the party
Founder of the National Front (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen, leaves the High Court of Nanterre on June 12th. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

The court ordered the party to restore Le Pen's membership two months after he was ousted in a bitter feud with his daughter Marine, who now leads the party.

However the National Front immediately appealed against the verdict.

Marine Le Pen, who now leads the party, suspended her father after he repeated inflammatory remarks he had made in the past, referring to Nazi gas chambers as a “detail of history.”
   
This appeared to be the last straw for Marine, who has sought to rid the party of its overtly racist, anti-Semitic image, and she split openly with her father, unleashing a bitter family row that has played out in the headlines.
   
Jean-Marie had been calling for the court to overturn his suspension, which he believes is contrary to the party's statutes.
   
The founder of the party has “no FN credit card any more, he can't get into the building, they've reassigned his office, he can't participate in meetings,” complained his lawyer ahead of the trial.
   
Daughter Marine however said she had “nothing to fear” from the court case.
   
“The courts will find that the procedure used was completely in order, that the rights of Jean-Marie Le Pen were respected in full,” she told French radio on Friday.
   
“I don't think this is a decisive day for the National Front,” she said, adding that the members had already moved on.
   
“Perhaps … he considers that the National Front is his property and that he doesn't want the National Front to outlive him,” she said of her father.

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POLITICS

Macron gives ground to allies in unpopular pension reform bid

President Emmanuel Macron's government on Sunday offered a concession on contested French pension reforms, seeking to shore up support from prospective right-wing allies ahead of the parliamentary debate.

Macron gives ground to allies in unpopular pension reform bid

People who began work between the ages of 20 and 21 will be able to retire at 63, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told the JDD weekly, rather than the headline age of 64 that has unions and large swathes of the public bristling.

“We hear the request” of MPs from the conservative Republicans party, whose votes are needed to make up a majority for the reform, Borne said.

Republicans leader Eric Ciotti had earlier told the Parisien newspaper that the change would “secure a very large majority” of his MPs.

Although re-elected to the presidency last year, Macron also lost his parliamentary majority and has been forced either to cobble together compromises or ram through laws using an unpopular constitutional side door.

But he has stuck to the widely disliked pension reform, against which hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated and many workers went on strike in two days of mass action so far, with more planned on February 7 and 11.

READ ALSO: What to expect from Tuesday’s strike in France

Meanwhile the left-wing opposition in parliament has submitted thousands of amendments to stymie debate on the law.

Borne also acknowledged demands from the Republicans and Macron’s Democratic Movement allies for a 2027 review of the reform, which aims to bring the pensions system out of deficit by 2030.

And she said the government would pile pressure on companies to end the practice of letting go of older employees, which leaves many struggling to find work in their final years before pension age.

READ ALSO: 5 minutes to understand French pension reform

“Too often, companies stop training and recruiting older people,” Borne said.

“It’s shocking for the employees and it’s a loss to deprive ourselves of their skills.”

Government plans will force companies to regularly publish details of how many older workers they employ, with Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt on Saturday trailing financial penalties for those which fail to do so.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Who is winning the battle over French pension reform?

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