France's FN founder calls for daughter's resignation amid family row

REUTERS
NANTERRE
Published 21.06.2017 00:12

Marine Le Pen should step down as leader of France's far-right National Front (FN) after disappointing results in the presidential and parliamentary elections, her father who founded the anti-establishment party said on Tuesday.

"You outlive your usefulness when you start harming your party by your policy stances or your stubbornness," the 89-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen told reporters after he was locked out of a party meeting. Asked if she should quit he said: "Yes, I think so."

Relations between Le Pen senior and his daughter have soured since she kicked him out of the party in 2015 for comments minimizing the holocaust, and their very public rows have in the past harmed the party's image.

Marine Le Pen had said her father would not be welcome at the meeting of the party's leadership. He arrived with a bailiff and lawyer, to get testimony of the fact that the gates were locked up by chains to prevent his entry.

"I'm too old to climb up over gates," he said, after describing his daughter's showing in the second round of the presidential election and the party's parliamentary results as "scathing failures".

Marine Le Pen reached the second round of the presidential election, capturing the support of voters increasingly disillusioned with mainstream parties, but was soundly beaten by centrist Emmanuel Macron in the run-off.

In the legislative poll, her party scooped up eight seats in the 577-seat chamber, a four-fold increase on the previous parliament but much less than it hoped for and not enough to form a parliamentary group.

Le Pen has made large strides to detoxify the anti-semitic, xenophobic image the National Front held under her father's leadership. It remains staunchly anti-EU, anti-immigration.

French far-right leader Le Pen called for an orderly debate on Monday as her National Front party launched an inquest into a disappointing election performance and a policy review which could lead to it softening its hostility to the euro.

A little over a month ago, the anti-immigration, anti-euro Natonal Front (FN) was dreaming of Le Pen winning the presidency and demanding a renegotiation of European Union treaties. But Le Pen was comfortably beaten by now-President Emmanuel Macron. Her defeat prompted a public row between senior party officials, and more barbs were traded after Sunday's parliamentary election which saw the party fall short of the 15 lawmakers required to form a parliamentary group, though it did quadruple its MP count to eight.

The task for Le Pen is whether she can transform her party's growing popularity into more votes and real power. France's two-round voting system in both presidential and parliamentary elections has traditionally impeded the FN, which seeks a more proportional system of voting.

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