Le Pen will stand in French parliamentary elections

Defeated French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen will stand in parliamentary elections in June, her party announced on Thursday, underlining how she intends to remain in frontline politics.

Le Pen will stand in French parliamentary elections
Rassemblement National leader Marine Le Pen. Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

The 53-year-old failed in a bid to unseat President Emmanuel Macron last weekend, but achieved a historic score of 41.5 percent.

The head of her Rassemblement National (RN) party, Jordan Bardella, confirmed that Le Pen would stand again for her constituency in northern France in parliamentary elections scheduled for June 12th and 19th.

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Ahead of the presidential elections, she had suggested that if she lost she would quit politics and devote her time to her hobby of breeding cats.

“Marine Le Pen will stand for another term in the Pas-de-Calais,” Bardella told reporters in the south of France.

Le Pen represents the deprived former mining town of Henin-Beaumont and surrounding area where she was elected in 2017 with around 58 percent of the vote.

Le Pen defiantly called her score in last weekend’s presidential election a “brilliant victory” and quashed rumours that she would step back after her third successive presidential defeat.

Her party is now gearing up for parliamentary elections, hoping to secure a major presence in the national assembly after the disappointment of 2017 that saw it capture just eight seats.

Le Pen looks set to spurn a suggestion of combining forces with new rival on the French far-right, ex-TV pundit Eric Zemmour, whom she has clashed with repeatedly in recent months.

“He needs to deflate his head, which is enormous, and stop insulting people,” RN vice-president Louis Aliot said of Zemmour on Monday.

A recent poll by the Harris Interactive group suggested the RN could win 75-105 seats in the 577-seat national assembly without an alliance with Zemmour.

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.