Front National name change ‘political suicide’, says founder
Radical move may isolate Marine Le Pen from grass roots of far-right French party
The founder and former leader of France’s far-right Front National has said plans to change its name amount to political suicide.
Jean-Marine Le Pen warned his daughter, who now leads the party, that she risks cutting herself off from the party’s grass roots with her radical rebranding plan.
Marine Le Pen, who dropped the Front National brand during her failed presidential bid last year, will ask members to agree to replace the name, which insiders say puts off potential voters and is an obstacle to alliances with other groups.
While she was soundly beaten by Emmanuel Macron in the second-round run-off, Le Pen still shocked many in France by winning a third of total votes, one of the biggest electoral successes by a far-right party in post-war Europe.
Speaking to Reuters, the elder Le Pen, who led the FN for nearly four decades and lost a presidential run-off against Jacques Chirac in 2002, said: “This initiative is suicidal. That would be so for a company, and that is obviously also the case in politics.”
“It takes years, decades, to build a credible political name,” he added. “Wanting to change it is ... inexplicable.”
Le Pen father and daughter “have been at odds since she kicked him out of the party in 2015 in a bid to distance herself from his frequent inflammatory remarks, which put off a large part of the electorate”.
Since the election she has dropped her unpopular anti-euro stance and refocused the party on migration and security. Now it appears she wants to go one step further and consign some of her father’s divisive legacy to history.