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France's far-right National Front keeps euro-exit stance

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France's far-right National Front keeps euro-exit stance
Marine Le Pen stands with Interim leader of the National Front and Mayor of Henin-Beaumont Steeve Briois (R) during last week’s Bastille Day celebrations. Photo: AFP
09:16 CEST+02:00
France's far-right National Front (FN) said Saturday it would maintain its goal of seeing the nation out of the euro common currency, despite urging by some in the party to ditch the stance as a vote-loser.

The decision came after a two-day, closed-door meeting at the group's headquarters west of Paris, to learn the lessons of May's presidential election that saw its candidate Marine Le Pen lose by double digits.

But while the policy position remains, a statement said it had been pushed back to the end of the five-year term of any future FN government, in what appeared to be a concession to critics.

Some inside the party -- and many commentators outside -- think this issue helped sink Le Pen's campaign.

And according to some of those present at the meeting, several of the group's leading members abstained in a vote on the final text.

Le Pen, campaigning on an anti-EU and anti-immigration platform, lost with 34 percent of the vote to centrist Emmanuel Macron's 66 percent in the May 7th runoff.

In parliamentary elections just weeks later, the FN won a mere eight seats in the 577-member National Assembly, missing its target of 15, as Macron's centrist party captured a comfortable majority.

As late as Friday, FN secretary general Nicolas Bay told FranceInfo radio he thought the party could reverse its stance on the question of an exit from the euro.

"I think we need to listen to what the French people said," he told the broadcaster. "We did not convince people with this idea."

But the party's deputy leader Florian Philippot, a strong supporter of the euro withdrawal policy, had warned against abandoning it.

He insists the party needs to speak to French voters "on issues beyond the traditional subjects of the National Front, such as immigration and crime".

Le Pen herself has said the FN will hold a "wide consultation" with party members, probably in September.

READ ALSO: France's far-right begin soul-searching talks as Le Pen looks for fresh start

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