The main groups in the European parliament have agreed to prevent French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen from presiding at the assembly’s next inaugural session. The idea was launched by the socialists and supported by the Greens. Head of the dominant conservative group Joseph Daul added his backing.
Opening the first sitting following the elections every five years is a privilege customarily accorded the eldest member of the parliament. If Le Pen wins a seat again, he would be doyen. Convicted of racism or anti-Semitism at least six times, he again dragged out remarks about the Holocaust: “I just said that the gas chambers were a detail in the history of the Second World War, which is obvious.” This came after European Socialist leader Martin Schulz proposed changing house rules, so that, if re-elected in this June’s EU ballot, Le Pen, whom he says is a Holocaust denier, would not preside.