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Le Pen opposes father as feud grows

Published 08/04/2015

Jean-Marie Le Pen founded France's far-right National Front
Jean-Marie Le Pen founded France's far-right National Front

The leader of France's far-right National Front has launched an all-out offensive against her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, opposing his candidacy in upcoming elections and entering into an open war with the man who helped found the party more than four decades ago.

Marine Le Pen, reacting to anti-Semitic remarks her father first made 28 years ago and recently repeated, said in a statement she will quickly convene the party's executive bureau to seek "means to best protect the political interests of the National Front".

Above all, Ms Le Pen said she informed her 86-year-old father she will personally oppose his candidacy in December regional elections to represent an area of southern France where he is a popular figure - and where he might hope to win.

Ms Le Pen took over the reins of the anti-immigration party in 2011 from her father, who was named honorary president for life.

"Jean-Marie Le Pen seems to be in a veritable spiral between scorched earth and political suicide," Ms Le Pen said in her statement, of a rare indignant candour.

His status "doesn't authorise him to take the National Front hostage", she said, adding that his "objective seems to be to drown me".

Ms Le Pen has worked to clean up the anti-Semitic, racist image the party had under Mr Le Pen, pushing out many old-guard members who were cohorts of her father. Under her leadership, the party has gained increasing electoral support and she plans to run for president in 2017.

The two have jousted repeatedly in the past but the latest clash is the most serious. It is unclear what measures the executive bureau might take, or when it would meet.

In a first step, the party's political bureau is holding a meeting on April 17 to choose candidates for the upcoming election, and if the elder Le Pen is excluded, it would be the first time Ms Le Pen has punished him politically.

Mr Le Pen triggered the clash with an interview last week in which he repeated comments that the Nazi gas chambers were a "detail in history", remarks for which he was once convicted. He has been repeatedly convicted of racism or anti-Semitism over the years.

He also told the extreme-right newspaper Rivarol that the National Front has some "fervent Petainists" as followers, referring to Philippe Petain, who ran France's collaborationist Vichy regime in the Second World War.

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