French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has proposed renaming the National Front party co-founded by her father 46 years ago National Rally, to put it in a win mode for future elections.
Le Pen’s proposal to open a new era for the anti-immigration party with a new name ended Le Pen’s 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 postal vote for it to be adopted.
In another decisive change, the party severed the final ties to Le Pen’s firebrand father, National Front co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.
He was not allowed to attend the congress.
The move was part of the broader makeover designed to revive the nationalist party’s fortunes after Marine Le Pen failed to win the French presidency last year.
In a nod to the apparently large contingent of members opposed to a name change, Le Pen noted that the National Front name, which the party has had since its founding in 1972, was linked to a “glorious” past.
However, she said it served as a psychological barrier for potential new members and voters, notably the word “front,” which suggests opposition.
A questionnaire to members showed only 52% wanted a new name for the party.
The changes are part of a broader makeover Le Pen hopes will help boost the party to power.
Le Pen has worked since taking over in 2011 to remove the stigma of racism and anti-Semitism attached to the National Front under her father’s leadership.
The party has fallen into the political netherworld since Marine Le Pen’s loss to Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election 10 months ago.
Despite her troubles, Marine Le Pen was re-elected to a new term as party president at the congress — the only candidate for the post.
National Front members also approved a new leadership structure and a 100-member governing council was named.