#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 7°C Sunday 23 January 2022

'It's dirty to kill your own daddy': France's far right-wing party is at war

There is no love lost between the Le Pens.

Jean-Marie le Pen
Jean-Marie le Pen
Image: PA

A DAY AFTER being kicked out of the National Front party he co-founded, French far-right firebrand Jean-Marie Le Pen accused his daughter of “dirty” tactics and vowed to “reconquer” the movement.

Le Pen was stripped of his National Front (FN) membership by the party’s executive committee yesterday following a damaging five-month family feud with his daughter, Marine Le Pen, over a string of inflammatory comments.

He dismissed the hearing as a “mockery” and an “ambush” and blamed Marine, who took over from him as leader in 2011, of pulling the strings from afar.

“She commanded the firing squad by telephone. She didn’t want to be involved directly because she would look like a villain,” the 87-year-old told French radio station RTL.

“It’s dirty to kill your own daddy, so she didn’t kill daddy directly, she did it through her henchman.”

The elder Le Pen has been a persistent thorn in the side of his daughter as she tries to smooth over the overt racism and xenophobia of the party’s past.

The final straw came in April when he rehashed familiar comments about gas chambers being a “detail” of history and said France should get along with Russia to save the “white world”.

Marine Le Pen then openly split with her father, saying he was committing “political suicide”.

But he has refused to go quietly, overturning repeated attempts to remove him from the party in court.

He again said he would appeal Thursday’s decision.

“I am the National Front,” he told RTL.

“It’s a theoretical expulsion, so of course I will take this to court which I think will once again condemn Marine Le Pen and the leadership of the National Front.”

‘Reconquer our party’

Speaking on another radio station, Europe 1, he ruled out the idea of starting a new party.

I call on National Front voters and say ‘Do not become disunited, stay where you are, don’t quit.’ We aim to reconquer our party, our movement.

The FN’s executive committee questioned Le Pen for three hours on Thursday before voting to exclude him.

Marine and her deputy, Florian Philippot, stayed away from the meeting to ensure “total impartiality”, they said.

“Jean-Marie Le Pen kicked off a process of which he knew the outcome by multiplying mistakes over many weeks, which could only lead to this kind of decision,” Marine said in a statement after the decision.

le pen 2 Marine Le Pen Source: PA

The former Foreign Legionnaire’s inflammatory speeches had made him the figurehead of France’s far right since he co-founded the FN in 1972.

Even after he handed over the reins to his daughter, he continued to come out with controversial statements, such as asserting that the Ebola virus could “solve” the immigration problem.

The FN had been on something of a roll, having scored unprecedented election results in the past two years, notably coming first in European polls in 2014.

A struggling economy and growing distaste for mainstream politics has helped the party, with Marine Le Pen skillfully repackaging its traditional dislike of outsiders as opposition to the EU and defence of secularism.

But Jean-Marie Le Pen has been an awkward reminder of the group’s roots — a “parasite” on the party, in the words of Philippot — when it should be focusing on regional elections in December.

Read: Far right’s Le Pen pulls out of elections over fight with his daughter

Read: France’s far-right political dynasty in crisis after ‘gas chamber comments’

About the author:


Read next: