Le Pen 'Anti-Semitic' Family Feud Deepens

French National Front Falters in European Push

getty images

By Nicholas Vinocur

Published June 24, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

(Reuters) — Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front admitted defeat on Tuesday after failing to win wide enough support to form a political group in European Parliament, dousing her ambition to lead an alliance of nationalists against Brussels.

Concurrently, a damaging public feud between Le Pen and her father Jean-Marie worsened as the 86-year-old FN founder said his daughter was wrong to have avoided alliances with other far-right parties “considered more or less beyond the pale”.

Le Pen’s anti-EU, anti-immigrant party caused a sensation in EU elections in May when it topped the poll in France with 24.95 percent, beating both President Francois Hollande’s Socialists and the center-right UMP opposition.

Before the vote, Le Pen told Reuters a major objective was to form a group in parliament, which would have secured at least 20 million euros ($27.2 million) in funds, staff and speaking time. Le Pen said after the vote that she had “no doubt” the National Front would soon be able to do so.

But hours before Tuesday night’s deadline, she was two countries short of the required representation from seven nations - highlighting the far-right populists’ difficulties in agreeing among themselves.

“We have no group, for the time being in any case,” National Front vice-president Florian Philippot told Reuters.

“But our deputies, who are more numerous than any other party in the French delegation, will be there to defend France under any circumstances, with or without a group.”

Compounding Le Pen’s embarrassment, she was outmaneuvered by the UK Independence Party’s Nigel Farage, who had refused to enter an alliance with her due to what he called the National Front’s legacy of anti-Semitism.

Farage formed a Eurosceptic parliamentary group last week with 48 lawmakers after poaching a National Front defector whom Le Pen had tried to unseat after she advocated giving non-EU foreigners the right to vote in local elections.

The Front said in a statement it had missed the deadline due to its refusal to join forces with parties whose members had “incompatible” values, but it still saw a chance of forming a group before parliament’s inaugural session on July 1.

That is still technically possible, although it would be too late to vie for influential posts such as a vice-presidency of the parliament and committee chairs.

Le Pen, who said she had enough deputies for a group and the backing of five national parties, lost her key partner in Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders after she held talks with a far-right Polish nationalist party.

Wilders pulled the plug in opposition to an alliance he called “a bridge too far” with Poland’s KNP party, whose leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke has said that women are less intelligent than men and should not vote, and that there was no proof Nazi leader Adolf Hitler knew of the extermination of the Jews.

“The Freedom Party wants to form a parliamentary group but not at any price,” Wilders told Reuters. He pledged to continue cooperating with other like-minded parties from Austria, Belgium and Italy as well as with the National Front.

SPAT WITH LE PEN SENIOR

In a new setback for Marine Le Pen’s efforts to “de-toxify” the image of a party still seen by many voters as racist, her father weighed in by saying that unlike her, he would not have shied away from controversial alliances.

“It seems some people are considered more or less beyond the pale judged by criteria which are not ones I would use,” Le Pen, who is still FN honorary president, told Sud Radio.

Jean-Marie Le Pen already fell out with his daughter in recent weeks after using a term linked to the French word ‘oven’ when talking about a Jewish singer.

Critics and Jewish groups said his remark was an implicit reference to Nazi death camps.

The National Front quickly stopped hosting Jean-Marie Le Pen’s blog and his daughter disowned the comment. But the public spat revived the party’s reputation for internal feuds and anti-Semitic undercurrents.

Whether her European Parliament setback will affect Marine Le Pen’s rise in France is far from certain.

Both the ruling Socialists and the center-right UMP are damaged by rifts over policy and tainted by financial scandals.

“It’s better to be part of a group in parliament and after Le Pen’s performance in the election she could have been expected to form one,” said Jean-Yves Camus, a political analyst specialized in the far-right.

“But let’s be clear: having or not having a group in parliament has zero effect on the National Front’s agenda, which is to perform strongly in (2015) regional elections once again and qualify Marine Le Pen for round two of the (2017) presidential election.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.