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National Front cries foul over French banks' refusal to loan Le Pen money

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National Front cries foul over French banks' refusal to loan Le Pen money
Photo: AFP
17:15 CET+01:00
Leaders of France's far right National Front party said the rules of democracy were not being respected because French banks were refusing to loan them money to help fund the presidential campaign of Marine Le Pen.

The far right party claimed on Thursday that it is struggling to raise funds for Marine Le Pen's bid to become president next spring. 

It is believed the party needs over €20 million to fund both the presidential campaign and the parliamentary elections which follow in June.

Party big wigs say part of the problem is a refusal by banks in France to offer loans.

Wallerand de Saint-Just, the treasurer for the National Front, told The Local on Monday that it was anti-democratic for French banks to refuse to deal with the party.

“They should do their civic duty. They have a responsibility. The government should put pressure on the banks,” he said.

Party secretary Nicolas Bay was equally furious.

“It's a real scandal to see the French banks do not play the game of democracy," he said.

“I understand there are some presidential candidates who offer less guarantee than Marine Le Pen does but have still received bank loans.”

For Bay, the snub by French banks “poses a real problem of discrimination based on political opinions”.

Some political analysts however suggest the uproar is all a bit of a publicity stunt by the National Front that plays into their tactic of trying to demonstrate they are being victimized by the establishment.

The National Front's former bank Société Générale announced in 2013 that it would no longer loan money to the party. The treasurer said that decision was down to the scandal of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2012 presidential campaign financing.

This week is not the first time the party has complained about a lack of funds.

In November 2014 Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's cash-strapped far-right National Front (FN), was forced to justify her party's controversial €9 million loan from a Russian Bank saying it was needed to beef up their war chest for the local elections in May of that year.

“It's scandalous, the French banks won't lend to us,” she said at the time.

The loan prompted fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Le Pen is a supporter of, was trying to meddle in the French elections.

Party leaders have been forced this week to dismiss claims that Le Pen has benefited from another mammoth loan from a Russian bank.

Jean-Yves Camus, a specialist on the far right in France from think tank IRIS reacted by saying: “I don't believe the National Front's story that they are penniless.

“It's true French banks won't lend them money but if they want to borrow money there are banks around the world, not just in Russia,” he told The Local at the time.

However party treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just told The Local they would do whatever it takes to find the money for Le Pen's campaign.

“We have an obligation to raise the money. We will go to banks in any country, whether it's China, Russia or the United States. We don't care. The only thing that matters is the bank's reputation.”

 

 

 

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