France’s Le Pen Proposes Far-right Rebranding

France's Le Pen Proposes Far-right Rebranding
French far-right party Front National president Marine Le Pen speaks during her party’s congress on March 11, 2018, in Lille, north of France, after being re-elected for a third term as leader. PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP

 

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen proposed changing the name of her party to the National Union on Sunday as part of efforts to improve its image after she was re-elected for a third term as leader.

At a party conference in the northeastern city of Lille, the 49-year-old suggested scrapping the existing name of the National Front (FN), which it has used since 1972 when it was co-founded by her father Jean-Marie.

The switch is meant to signal a new beginning and a decisive break from the toxic past of Jean-Marie who has a long history of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

He was finally banished from the party on Sunday, marking the final act in a vitriolic and highly personal power struggle between him and his daughter who took over the party in 2011.

Le Pen said the National Front name was “associated with a glorious and epic history that no one can deny” but she said it was also an impediment that prevented the party winning power in elections.

“For a lot of French people, even those who are sincere, it’s a psychological barrier,” Le Pen said of the historic name, adding that it stopped people becoming members and casting their votes for her.

National Front members are to be asked to vote on the name change and she promised to abide by their decision.

Le Pen scored a lower-than-expected 34 percent as she lost to President Emmanuel Macron in last May’s national election and has since struggled to assert her authority after admitting to mistakes during her campaign.

She addressed the party faithful after being re-elected as their leader with 100 percent of votes on Sunday morning after standing unopposed.

– Bannon support –

The divorced mother of three won a major boost on Saturday from former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon who appeared alongside her at the National Front conference and told delegates that “history is on our side”.

Bannon’s appearance reinforced the links between the Trump campaign and France’s far-right party which hold similar views on immigration, Islam, trade, the European Union and Russia.

Trump came close to endorsing Le Pen as she sought to defeat Macron last year.

“Let them call you racists, let them call you xenophobes, let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honour. Because every day we get stronger and they get weaker,” Bannon told the audience.

The presence of the former head of Breitbart News drew a stinging response from Macron’s government.

“The king of fake news and of white supremacists at an FN summit… why am I not surprised?” remarked parliamentary affairs minister Christophe Castaner, who is also the head of Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move party.

“Change of name but not of the political line.”

– Name debate –

Le Pen’s bid to change the party’s name does not have unanimous support at the grassroots level and has been heavily criticised by Jean-Marie, who sees it as an attack on his legacy.

The party canvassed 51,000 members last year about the new name proposal and on Saturday it emerged that just 52 percent had voted in favour among the 30,000 who responded.

That compared with 90 percent of respondents wanting a referendum on continued EU membership and 98 percent wanting to cut immigration to France.

Speaking Saturday, FN youth leader Gaetan Dussausaye admitted the party had to “swallow its pride” as “the FN brand is still a block for voters”.

The National Front was co-founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972 and led by him for nearly 40 years until he was replaced by his daughter Marine in 2011.

She attempted to banish him from the party in 2015 after he repeated his belief that the Nazi gas chambers were “a detail of history”.

The party voted to strip him of his role as honorary president on Sunday.

AFP

France’s Le Pen Put Under Formal Investigation Over EU Funds

Courtesy: france24.com

French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen was placed under formal investigation on Friday as part of a probe into the alleged misuse of European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

Le Pen, who is being investigated for breach of trust, has previously denied any wrongdoing in a case that she has said is politically motivated.

The European Parliament believes the money went to National Front employees working for the party in France rather than those working for the party’s lawmakers in Brussels. Last February, Le Pen’s chief-of-staff Catherine Griset was placed under formal investigation by a financial court, while her longtime bodyguard Thierry Legier was questioned.

The formal investigation of Le Pen comes less than two weeks after she won a seat in the French National Assembly. She is no longer a member of the European Parliament.

Macron Defeats Le Pen To Win French Presidential Election

Credit: politico.eu.com

France’s centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron has won the presidential election after beating rival Marine Le Pen.

Exit polls showed that the 39-year-old, who won in the first round last week, claimed 65.5 per cent of the polls against his opponent’s 34.5 per cent.

His supporters have been gathered in the courtyard of the Louvre. The area was briefly evacuated on Sunday after a suspect bag was found.

Liberal centrist Macron is pro-business and a strong supporter of the European Union.

The whole of France has been celebrating his victory, while congratulatory messages have begun pouring in from around the world.

Meanwhile, Le Pen conceded and congratulated the French President-elect on his victory.

She also thanked her supporters for helping her come this far in the elections.

Macron stretches lead as French presidential campaign enters final day

Macron Source: Official Leweb Photos

Centrist French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron extended his lead in the polls over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Friday, the final day of a tumultuous election campaign that has turned the country’s politics upside down.

The election is seen as the most important in France for decades with two diametrically opposed views of Europe and France’s place in the world at stake.
Le Pen told RTL radio she was confident she possessed the backing of the people and that Macron’s programme was one of “social deconstruction”.

According to an Elabe poll for BFM TV and L’Express, Macron will get 62 per cent of the votes in the second round compared to 38 per cent for Le Pen, an increase of three points for the centrist candidate compared to his projected score in the last Elabe poll.

Macron’s strong showing in a debate on Wednesday and another poll this week that showed his En Marche! (Onwards!) political movement was likely to emerge as the biggest party in the June legislative elections have lifted the mood among investors who had worried about the upheaval a Le Pen victory could cause.

Reuters

France Election: Le Pen Accused Of Plagiarising Fillon

Courtesy: france24.com

French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, has been accused of plagiarising defeated rival, François Fillon in a speech she delivered on Monday.

Several sections of her speech appeared to repeat almost word-for-word comments made by Mr Fillon in an address on April 15.

However, an official of her National Front Party said she had made a “Nod” to Mr Fillon and it shows she is “not sectarian”.

Ms Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in the final round on Sunday.

France Election: EU Must Reform Or Face ‘Frexit’ – Macron

Macron Source: Official Leweb Photos

Pro-EU centrist, Emmanuel Macron, has said that the European Union (EU) must reform or face the prospect of “Frexit”.

The front-runner in the French presidential election made the comments as he and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen enters the last week of campaigning.

Ms Le Pen has capitalised on Anti-EU feeling, promising a referendum on France’s membership.

She won support in rural and former industrial areas by promising to retake control of France’s borders from the EU and slash immigration.

French Elections: Macron, Le Pen Advance To Second Round

Courtesy: theguardian.com

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen have both advanced to the second rounds of the French elections.

With 79 per cent of Sunday’s votes counted, Mr Macron stands on 23.8 per cent with Mrs Le Pen on 21.5 per cent.

It is the first time in 60 years that neither of France’s main left-wing or right-wing parties has had a candidate in the second round.

Their nearest challengers, centre-right François Fillon and hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, fell behind, with just over 19 per cent each.

The second round of the elections will comes up on May 7.

French FN Routed In Key Vote

French FN Routed In Key VoteFrance’s Far-right National front (FN) party has suffered a shocking defeat in  the second round of municipal elections after preliminary results showed that it failed to win a single region.

This means that the party has been beaten into third place, despite leading in six of 13 regions in the first round of voting.

Former President, Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right republicans are set to win most seats ahead of the ruling socialists.

Acknowledging defeat, FN Leader, Marine Le Pen, pledged to keep fighting. She blamed the outcome on the mainstream parties which joined forces to keep the FN from power, telling her supporters they had been “disenfranchised in the most indecent ways by a campaign of lies and disinformation”.

She had stood as a regional presidential candidate in the northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, while her niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, was the FN’s candidate in the race in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, in the south.

After both led with more than 40 per cent  of the vote in the first round on December 6, the Socialist candidates in those regions pulled out so their voters could support Republican candidates in the second round.

The FN actually increased its votes in the second round to more than 6.8 million, from 6.02 million on  December 6 as more people voted, according to the Ministry of  Interior (In French). But the FN share of the vote went down slightly from 27.73 per cent to 27.36 per cent.

The Republicans increased their share from 26.65 per cent to 40.63 per cent and the Socialists from 23.12 per cent to 29.14 per cent.

The overall turnout increased from 22.6 million on  December 6 to 26.2 million on Sunday. Sunday’s figures were based on a count of 98 per cent of votes so far.

France Votes In First Election Since Paris Attacks

France electionFrance is set to vote in the first round of regional elections, widely seen as a test of public support for the government’s response to the attacks on November 13.

About 44 million people are eligible to vote in the first poll since the Paris attacks, which killed 130 people.

The far-right National Front (FN) is hoping to make gains, while the centre-right Les Republicains party, led by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, is expected to win a majority of regions.

The FN leader, Marine Le Pen, is likely to win in the northern region, while her niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, is a leading contender in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur.

Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, on Thursday made an “appeal to patriotism” in an effort to rally the socialist votes.

The second round is on December 13.