Bannon boosts France's Marine Le Pen, seeks European network

11 March, 2018, 01:42 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • French far-right party Front National president Marine Le Pen speaks during her party's congress

The proposal she plans to make at the party congress Sunday symbolizes the ongoing makeover to rescue the National Front from the political netherworld it plummeted into after Le Pen lost last year's presidential election to Emmanuel Macron.

"I won't go to Lille because I don't want to become ... an accomplice to the assassination of the National Front that will be underway there", he told RTL radio.

"Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal".

Steve Bannon tells National Front members in France history is on their side

Last week, Bannon appeared in Rome to observe the elections and advocated for an alliance between the anti-immigrant League party and the populist Five Star Movement in Italy.

The far-right party held its conference in Lille, where Bannon was reportedly introduced by leader Marine Le Pen, and made some eyebrow raising remarks.

The trained lawyer, who took over the FN leadership from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011, is running unopposed for a third term at the helm at the conference starting Saturday in the northern city of Lille.

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Le Pen told French television on Friday that a name change was needed to show the FN had grown up and become "adult". But the pair had a bitter public falling out and Bannon was sacked by the White House last August, though he continued to speak with Trump and tried to promote the president's agenda.

Bannon was reportedly set to meet with the French party's leader, Marine Le Pen, at the convention Saturday.

Le Pen's young and ambitious niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who claims to have withdrawn temporarily from politics, is also biding her time.

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Le Pen defended inviting Bannon to the meeting, saying it was important to listen to the man who was "the architect of Donald Trump's victory" and has written about globalization, protectionism and giving to regular people the power that "has been practically illegally captured by the elite". She bowed out of politics after her aunt's presidential defeat, but is expected to come back in a new role. The new name, to be announced tomorrow, is meant to distance the party from the toxic aura that it earned under her father, who handed her the leadership in 2011. "It has gone from a party first of protest in its youth, then an opposition party to a party of government", Le Pen said on French television.

At home, she is banking on divisions between pro-Macron centrists and rightwingers tearing his party apart, making the FN France's biggest party of the right. Jean-Marie Le Pen also is to be scratched from the party's books along with his title of honorary president-for-life. "He has understood like Trump, Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen the wish of the people to control their own destiny", he tweeted.

An election next year for members of the European Union's lawmaking arm will be the National Front's first chance to test its rebranding strategy.

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