Wednesday 22 January 2020

Funding block 'is a death sentence' for Le Pen party

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader. Photo: Reuters
Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader. Photo: Reuters

David Chazan

French judges have blocked the payment of €2.35m in state subsidies to the far-right party of Marine Le Pen, a move she described as a "death sentence" for the group.

Ms Le Pen's National Rally, previously known as the National Front, had been expecting to receive the money today, representing nearly half of the subsidy payments due to the party this year.

Political parties in France are entitled to state subsidies depending on their election results.

Judges have frozen the funds as part of an investigation into alleged misuse of European parliamentary funds by the anti-immigration party.

"The investigating judges are applying a death sentence by confiscating our public grant without a court judgment," Ms Le Pen said. Without the money, she said her party "will be dead by August".

"The National Rally is threatened with death by judges!" said Ms Le Pen.

Sébastien Chenu, a National Rally MP, said: "We won't be able to pay our staff, our rent, our financial obligations after about July 15."

The European Parliament has accused Ms Le Pen and other party figures of fraudulently paying their staff in France with EU funds that were supposed to be spent only on European parliamentary assistants.

The party has long suffered from financial problems.

In 2014, it took a loan from a Russian bank, saying it had been refused credit in France.

Several banks refused to open accounts for the party last year and Ms Le Pen said a "banking fatwa" was being enforced against her party in an effort to silence it.

Le Pen last year reached the second round of France's presidential elections before being defeated by centrist Emmanuel Macron.

She was elected to France's parliament alongside seven other National Front candidates. But they have struggled to make their voice heard since.(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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