Jean-Marie Le Pen cannot preside at the new European Parliament’s first session, as custom would have it, because the rules have changed.
The two largest political groups in the EU assembly, the socialists and the pre-dominant conservatives, voted together on this. The result is that the honour usually given the parliament’s oldest member won’t go to the French far-right leader, even if he is re-elected in this June’s poll. The new rules call for the outgoing president of the chamber to preside, or the longest serving MEP. In March, Le Pen repeated his opinion that the Holocaust was “a detail of history”, quote unquote. The former paratrooper turns 81 next month. Some members in the multinational parliament, even if they abhor the man’s politics, did not agree with the rule-change decision.