National Front founder Le Pen decries 'disastrous' party name change






Paris - By Pol O Gradaigh, - Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France's far-right National Front, said Monday his daughter Marine's plan to change the name of the party to National Alliance was "political murder."



 
"I consider it disastrous to abandon the name National Front because it's an inimitable and unmissable point of reference," the elder Le Pen, 89, told France Inter radio.
Party leader Marine Le Pen revealed the proposed name on Sunday in her closing speech to a party conference where members also voted to abolish the position of honorary president, held by her father.
Both moves form part of the current leader's long-standing campaign to dissociate the movement from a past seen by many as extremist - a view reinforced, for example, by the elder Le Pen's repeated comments downplaying the Holocaust.
Party members are due to vote on the proposed new name by postal ballot in the coming weeks.
"It doesn't bring anything new, but the fact that it is no longer called National Front is a real political murder," the elder Le Pen said.
Expelled from the party in 2015 due to the Holocaust comments, Marine Le Pen's father noted that he himself had previously used the name National Alliance in two election campaigns in the 1980s.
"Marine Le Pen lacked imagination," he said.
The elder Le Pen's characteristic refusal to go into a quiet retirement was not the only hiccup for Marine Le Pen's rebranding exercise.
Opponents of the National Front have also recalled that during Nazi Germany's occupation of France, a small pro-German party was called the National Popular Alliance.
And a video posted online at the weekend allegedly showed an official of its youth wing using a racist slur after a dispute with a black bouncer at a bar.
The official, Davy Rodriguez, denied having made any racist remarks, but National Front lawmaker Sebastien Chenu Monday that Rodriguez had been suspended pending an probe.
"I am, as Marine Le Pen has said, uncompromising on this subject," Chenu told broadcaster BFMTV.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, for his part, hinted that the old name might make a reappearance: "That means that if Madame Le Pen gives up the title National Front, I think that I have more right than anyone to make use of it, if I may say so."

 


Monday, March 12th 2018
By Pol O Gradaigh,
           


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