Na­tional Front cuts ties with its founder

Far-right party pro­poses name change af­ter a big de­feat in ’17

StarMetro Toronto - - World -

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.

Getty Images

Jean-marie Le Pen

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.