National Front cuts ties with its founder
Far-right party proposes name change after a big defeat in ’17
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen proposed renaming the National Front party co-founded by her father 46 years ago to National Rally, opening a new era after her resounding defeat in last year’s presidential race.
Le Pen’s proposal culminated her closing speech at the party’s two-day congress in Lille, the capital of the National Front’s northern heartland.
The name National Rally must be approved by party members in a mail vote and it’s not clear whether they will accept the change.
In another decisive change, the party severed the final ties to firebrand founder Jean-marie Le Pen, 89, by eliminating his title of honorary president-for-life. He was barred from attending the congress.
The moves were part of a makeover designed to revive the nationalist party’s fortunes after Marine Le Pen’s resounding loss in last year’s presidential election to Emmanuel Macron.
After her defeat, Le Pen had promised a “re-foundation” of the party. New faces appeared within the leadership and new bylaws were voted on. But the party’s foundation, notably its anti-immigration agenda, remained intact.
However, Le Pen’s party reset had an immediate setback when a young official who was appointed last fall as an “ambassador for the re-foundation” was suspended for allegedly using racial slurs. Davy Rodriguez, also deputy director of the party’s youth wing, tweeted Sunday that he “formally denies racist remarks ascribed to me.”
Since taking over in 2011, Le Pen has worked to remove the stigma of racism and antisemitism attached to the National Front under her father’s leadership.
However, Le Pen, in her 80-minute speech, touched the chord that has resonated with sympathizers for decades, protecting France’s secular values that she claimed are being destroyed by immigration, notably by Muslims.
Jean-marie Le Pen