In Brief

Marion Marechal: is the Le Pen name now toxic – even to the far right?

Marechal, granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, changes surname but keeps right-wing views

The name Le Pen “for decades associated with anti-immigration and often racist politics in France”, says The Guardian, appears to have become so out of favour that even a leading member of the country’s far right has abandoned it.

Jean-Marie Le Pen’s granddaughter Marion Marechal-Le Pen, often tipped as a future leader of the far right despite stepping back from public life last year, has revealed she has dropped one of the most famous names in French politics.

The move has further dismayed Le Pen senior, “the nationalist patriarch who co-founded France's National Front party in 1972 and built it up into a formidable political force”, says The Local.

“Marion perhaps thinks that it is too much of weight to carry,” Jean-Marie Le Pen told reporters last week.

On her social media accounts, Marion has changed her profile names from “Marion Le Pen” to Marion Marechal and she announced this week she intends to be known by the latter from now on.

The change “was a way to demonstrate my transition to civilian life. I have never and will never feel ashamed of my name,” she told the right-wing Boulevard Voltaire website.

What’s in a name?

The move is something of a volte-face considering Marechal took on the name in 2010 deciding it would be a good career move.

“Le Pen is a brand that speaks to people,” she said by way of explanation. “It’s not solely a toxic name because thanks to this name I’ve gone from being an unknown to someone with a certain credibility.”

Now that the “Le Pen” name has served its purpose, Marechal “wants to move on, restyling herself as a businesswoman and, in time, a candidate for the 2022 election”, says The Spectator’s Gavin Mortimer.

This will probably be as the “head of a new party that cuts across class and age to bring together conservatives, Catholics and nationalists, united by a fear of Islam, immigration and inner-city violence”, he writes.

What next?

A widely publicised appearance by Marechal’s at a conservative political meeting in Washington in March fed speculation about her intentions.

“Just like you, we want our country back,” she told her American audience.

A run in 2022 will likely see her go up against President Emmanuel Macron, who beat Marechal’s aunt, Marine Le Pen in last year election.

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