New York Times, By Suzanne Daley, April 8
Paris – Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s far-right National Front, has openly split with her father and the founder of her party, calling his recent comments, including those on German gas chambers, “political suicide” and an attempt to harm her.
In recent years, Ms. Le Pen, trying to clean up the image of her party as racist and anti-Semitic, has kept her distance from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, 86, and his more extreme statements, even as he continued as the party’s honorary chairman.
But Mr. Le Pen made headlines over the last week, after he once again claimed that the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail” of history; praised France’s collaborationist wartime leader, Marshal Philippe Pétain; and questioned whether France’s Spanish-born prime minister, Manuel Valls, was really loyal to France.
His outbursts appeared to be more than Ms. Le Pen and her entourage could put up with. In a statement on Wednesday, Ms. Le Pen said she had already told her father that she planned to block him from running in coming regional elections.
“Jean-Marie Le Pen seems to have descended into a strategy somewhere between scorched earth and political suicide,” she said. “His status as honorary president does not give him the right to hijack the National Front with vulgar provocations seemingly designed to damage me but which unfortunately hit the whole movement.”
She added that, with great sadness, she was calling a meeting of the party’s executive bureau with her father present “to find the best way of protecting the interests of the movement,” a statement that some experts took to mean that Mr. Le Pen may be expelled from the party altogether.