• Monday, Sep 26, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

French far-right seeks second wind at watershed conference

  • Published at 12:00 pm March 10th, 2018
French far-right seeks second wind at watershed conference

France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen will attempt to revive her battered party this weekend at a conference with a proposal to ditch the tainted National Front (FN) brand, seen as a key hurdle to winning power.

Controversial ex-White House adviser Steve Bannon, who has repeatedly expressed support for Europe's far-right movements, will also attend Saturday's conference.

Bannon, a formerly powerful figure in the Trump administration who used to head Breitbart News, was expected to encourage delegates "that victory is possible, and how to obtain it," said FN spokesman Sebastien Chenu.

But the visit of the shaggy-haired agitator has raised eyebrows in the government of French President Emmanuel Macron.

"The king of fake news and of white supremacists at an FN summit... why am I not surprised? Change of name but not of the political line," remarked the head of Macron's centrist Republic on the Move party, Christophe Castaner.

Nine months after Le Pen was defeated by Macron for president in a bruising battle between nationalists and globalists, the FN is struggling to rebound.

She goes into the conference weakened by her poor performance in a final TV debate against Macron, which raised questions about her fitness to lead the world's fifth-biggest economy.

"Failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts," she told reporters recently, quoting British wartime leader Winston Churchill.

New name, old face?

The trained lawyer, who took over the FN leadership from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011, is running unopposed for a third term at the helm at the conference starting Saturday in the northern city of Lille.

The high point will come Sunday when Le Pen will announce a proposed new name for the party, turning a page on the anti-Semitic, openly racist Front of her former paratrooper dad.

"Without a name change we will not be able to forge alliances. And without alliances we will never be able to take power," she told a party gathering last month.

Further humiliation is in store for the 89-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen when the party votes to strip him of his role as honorary president, severing his last formal link to the movement he led for nearly four decades.

Since the presidential campaign and June general election in which the FN bagged only eight seats, the party and its leader have appeared deflated.

Rematch in Europe?

Le Pen is hoping to set up a rematch with Macron in next year's European elections, by forming alliances with other eurosceptic parties around the bloc.

At home, she hopes to form pacts with rightwing rivals that have in the past banded together with the left to bar the FN's path to power.

Le Pen is banking on divisions between pro-Macron centrists and right-wingers tearing his party apart, making the FN France's biggest party of the right.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail