Thursday 18 April 2019

Front National to get new name in 'makeover'

Steve Bannon and National Front leader Marine Le Pen. (AP Photo)
Steve Bannon and National Front leader Marine Le Pen. (AP Photo)

Rory Mulholland in Paris

Marine Le Pen has proposed changing the name of the Front National to Rassemblement National - loosely translated as National Rally - as part of a makeover aimed at ridding the French far-right party of its racism-tinted past and getting it ready to take power.

She made the proposal at a party conference where members voted to sever ties with her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the firebrand founder of the movement who has a long history of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

But on the same day that Ms Le Pen, who took over 10 million votes last year in her failed bid for the French presidency, spoke of a bright new future for the FN, her party had to suspend a senior official after he was caught making a racist insult.

Ms Le Pen (49) said the FN's current name was "associated with a glorious and epic history that no one can deny" but she said it was also an impediment that prevented the Eurosceptic and anti-immigration party winning power in elections.

The new name must now be approved by party members in a mail vote. The possible change is part of a broader makeover - aimed at "de-demonising' the party.

She won a major boost on Saturday when Steve Bannon - the man who helped Donald Trump ride a populist wave to power in the US - made a speech at the conference.

He praised Ms Le Pen's vision of a political spectrum that no longer spans left-right but pits "nationalists" against "globalists".

"Let them call you racists, let them call you xenophobes, let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honour. Because every day we get stronger and they get weaker," Mr Bannon said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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