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Le Pen takes over French far-right from Le Pen

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Le Pen takes over French far-right from Le Pen


In France, the political far-right is a matter of dynastic succession.

Marine Le Pen has succeeded her father, Jean Marie, as head of the National Front, the party he founded in 1972.

The twice-divorced former lawyer is the mother of three children. Vice President of the party for the last seven years, she has been working to modernise its image.

“I was never made in the exact image of my father, his character nor his political vision. I have my own name and identity, and thank goodness for that, otherwise I would just be another Le Pen and that would contribute nothing to the debate,” she is on record as saying.

Latest research suggests 46 percent of the French see Marine Le Pen as the embodiment of a nationalistic and xenophobic far-right.

In 2006, 65 percent thought the same of her father.

He has always seen France’s national heroine Joan of Arc as a touchstone for traditional and patriotic values.

“Independence, a sense of identity and security for the French, support for the armed forces, concerted action against the enemy, faith in the future. These were the values of Joan of Arc and six centuries later, they are ours as well,” he told a rally of supporters.

A larger-than-life figure in French society, 82-year-old Le Pen’s finest political hour came in 2002. He got through to the second round of the presidential election against Jacques Chirac, having ousted the socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

But in 2007, the National Front was battered in the parliamentary elections, coming away with only 4.5 percent of the ballot.

Things looked up in the regional elections of 2010, with a showing of 11.4 percent.

And in 2012, polls suggest Marine Le Pen can count on 14 percent of the vote in the first round.

Tough crackdowns on immigration and tighter national security were the political currency of the National Front exclusively until the presidential election in 2007, which brought Nicolas Sarkozy to power.

“Sarkozy has definitely muscled in on some of our policies, ones that we have been promoting for the last 30 years, in the face of strong opposition. But it is not just about talk, you have to apply the policies as well, and that he will never do,” Marine Le Pen assured supporters.

Marine Le Pen has the bit between her teeth, spurred on more by social and economic matters than her father ever was. Whether this appeals to the voters remains to be seen.

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