French far-right party polls ac­tivists

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - WORLD -

NANTERRE, France: Who are you and what do you want? Seek­ing to re­brand it­self and bounce back from elec­toral de­feat, France’s far-right Na­tional Front Tues­day sent a ques­tion­naire to party mem­bers ask­ing them whether it should change its name and poli­cies.

Six months af­ter party leader Marine Le Pen suf­fered a crush­ing de­feat against cen­trist Em­manuel Macron in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion run-off, the poll is part of the 45year-old Na­tional Front’s ef­forts to re­launch it­self.

“We need to ask our­selves why we didn’t win the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and how we can im­prove our po­lit­i­cal of­fer,” FN law­maker Se­bastien Chenu, said. “We want to win elec­tions, we owe it to our mem­bers.”

The FN’s 81,000 card­hold­ers – which in­cludes those up to a year late on party dues – are asked to say what type of job they have and where they get their news from.

More cru­cially, they are asked if they want to ditch the euro and hold a ref­er­en­dum on France’s mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union and if they think the party should fo­cus less on im­mi­gra­tion.

Op­po­si­tion to the euro and im­mi­gra­tion have long been at the heart of the party’s poli­cies, but in the six months since her de­feat, Le Pen has pro­gres­sively wa­tered down her anti-EU stance, which is un­pop­u­lar and widely considered to be one of the rea­sons why the FN does not win ma­jor elec­tions.

Party of­fi­cials will use the re­sults of the ques­tion­naire to help pre­pare a party congress to be held in mid-March.

Mem­bers are also asked if they want to change the party’s name. While the FN is a well-known brand through­out France, it is largely as­so­ci­ated with Le Pen’s fa­ther JeanMarie, the party founder, who was sev­eral times con­victed for in­cite­ment to racial ha­tred.

Opin­ion­pollsover­thep­ast­months have shown Le Pen’s pop­u­lar­ity has taken a hit even among party mem­bers and it is the far-left France In­soumise (France Un­bowed), not the FN, that vot­ers see as Macron’s strong­est op­po­nent. –

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