Marine Le Pen in recent weeks has faced the mounting dilemma of what to do about her father Jean-Marie Le Pen who is the ex-president of the Front National. Now president of the right wing party herself, Marine was forced to denounce her father’s recent controversial statements and interviews. The Front National is an extreme right wing party with a history of members causing controversy with racist, homophobic and anti-semitic views. However, since her rise to the party’s presidency in 2011 Marine has attempted to turn the image of the party around, arguably successfully as they earned nearly 25% of the votes in March’s departmental elections. But has she failed to escape the shadow of her out spoken father? Or have her decisive actions allowed her to rise above the mounting controversy?
In an recent interview Jean-Marie Le Pen stood by his previous comments that the gas chambers used by the Nazis were a mere ‘detail’ of history and should not ‘shock’ anyone. Without doubt this put Marine Le Pen in a difficult position. Just starting the run up to the 2017 elections to which it is speculated she will run for president, Marine could not afford to lose any of her hard line voters many of whom remain loyal to the traditional Front National ways and Jean-Marie Le Pen. However, her ability to appeal to the wider public often deterred by some of the more extreme views will be vital if she is to be victorious. Marine Le Pen therefore came out saying she did not agree with her father’s views on the subject but made no reference to what effect his comments would have on his place within the party.
Unfortunately for Marine, Jean-Marie’s controversial remarks did not stop there. Last week in an interview with a right wing magazine he defended Philippe Pétain who was leader of France’s Nazi collaborationist Vichy regime and convicted of treason. He also suggested that France should join with Russia to save the ‘white world’. The tension between Marine Le Pen and her farther reached a head and her hand was forced. She announced that she would oppose her father’s candidacy in polls later this year and in response Jean-Marie stated he would not be running; perhaps marking the end of his notorious stint in politics.
But will this move against her infamous father cause less extreme right wing voters to reassess the Front National and Marine Le Pen’s potential to be president of France, or could it spell the end of the Front National’s surge in votes with hard line right wing voters feeling betrayed by their party’s president? Only the next two years of campaigning will tell.