French far-right leader wants father out of local polls

Marine Le Pen condemns as "political suicide'' her father's repeated comments about the Nazi gas chambers in Germany.

    The elder Jean Marie Le Pen is contesting elections in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur in December [Reuters]
    The elder Jean Marie Le Pen is contesting elections in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur in December [Reuters]

    The leader of France's far-right National Front has declared that she will oppose the candidacy of her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, in upcoming local elections in southern France. 

    In a statement on Wednesday, Marine Le Pen said she will quickly convene the party's executive bureau to seek "means to best protect the political interests of the National Front".

    She also condemned as "political suicide'' her father's repeated comments that the Nazi gas chambers were a "detail in history".

    Her public declaration has brought out into public view a widening rift between father and daughter, who according to reports, have not been on speaking terms for years, following her efforts to wrest control of the party from her ageing father.    

    Q&A: Marine Le Pen on France and Islam

    The elder Le Pen, who once ran for president, is headling a Nationial Front list contesting elections in December in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, where the party is hoping to making gains.

    He accused his daughter of betrayal, and said that he did not regret his statement, which he had repeated over the years.

    Marine Le Pen has worked to clean up the party's anti-Semitic, racist image and wrestling control of the party from her father.

    Wednesday's statement was the most public so far, but in June, she also distanced herself from her father after a quip about a French Jewish singer that included an implied reference to concentration camp ovens. 

    Philippe Marliere, a professor in French politics at the University College of London, interpreted Marine Le Pen's move against her father as partly genuine political reform and partly theatre.

    "If she really wants her party to look as a new party that has moved beyond the traditional extreme-right image, then of course there is nothing better for her, than to have those sort of fights with her father. Because really that confirms to the public that indeed things are different," Marliere told Al Jazeera.

    "It's political and personal because it's a feud between a father and a daughter."

    But while the younger Le Pen has moved away from the divisive policies of her father, the National Front remains to be perceived as an extreme-right party, said Marliere.

    In recent years, Marine Le Pen has attracted broader support from French voters, winning a seat in the European Parliament, and she is widely known to contest the French presidency in 2017.

    Marliere, however, said that while Le Pen could win a spot for a second-round in the presidential vote, it is unlikely that she will win the elections, whether she will be facing the Socialist President Francois Hollande, or the former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

    With reporting from Al Jazeera's Ted Regencia. Follow him @tedregencia

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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