A French court cancelled Jean-Marie Le Pen’s suspension from the far-right National Front (FN) party yesterday in a ruling that shone a spotlight back on a public feud with his daughter, now party leader Marine Le Pen.
By pushing her maverick father out of the party he founded four decades ago, Marine Le Pen had sought to prevent him ruining her bid for power, as she eyes France’s 2017 presidential election.
But her 86-year-old father challenged in court the party executive board’s decision and demanded to be reinstated.
“Mr Le Pen can from tomorrow morning . . . start using his office again and all the means that were at his disposal, and sit in all the bodies in which he was taking part as honorary president,” lawyer Frederic Joachim told media after the court cancelled Le Pen snr’s suspension on technical grounds.
The party said it would appeal against the ruling.
The crisis at the National Front erupted in April when Le Pen snr reiterated comments that Nazi gas chambers were a mere detail of history and defended Philippe Petain, the wartime French leader who co-operated with Nazi Germany.
Weeks of squabbling via the media ensued, with the daughter accusing the father of political suicide and the father publicly suspecting she would like him dead anyway.
Jean-Marie Le Pen reacted to yesterday’s verdict by calling for party unity. His daughter and her deputy played down the ruling, saying party members were being consulted on cancelling the honorary president title in a vote that closes on July 10th.
“No one thinks that he speaks in the name of the FN anymore anyway,” party deputy Florian Philippot told BFM TV.
Asked if he still had support within the party, Philippot laughed and said members stood unanimously behind Marine Le Pen.
Ms Le Pen said on Tuesday she would stand in regional elections in December, a move that will test her popularity before France’s presidential vote in 2017.
An OpinionWay poll on Monday saw her party taking control of the northern Nord- Pas- de-Calais regional assembly if she decided to lead the party’s ticket there.
But a weak performance could undermine her presidential bid. – (Reuters)