France’s National Front party cuts all ties with founder in bid to shed ‘racist image’
France’s far-right National Front party has confirmed it has severed its ties to firebrand founder Jean-Marie Le Pen as it tries to revive its fortunes.
The party also re-elected his daughter Marine Le Pen to a new term as president at party congress where she was its only candidate for the post.
A new 100-member governing council was also named.
The party tweeted on Sunday that more than 79% of members who participated in a vote approved new party statutes that included abolishing Mr Le Pen’s position of party president for life.
The party expelled him in 2015 over anti-Semitic comments and dismissing the Holocaust but he kept an honorary position.
He has been convicted several times of inciting racial hatred.
Sunday’s vote is a crushing blow for the 89-year-old, who founded the party in 1972 and was runner-up in the 2002 French presidential election.
Marine Le Pen revealed last week that the party is hoping to change its name to distance itself from its racist history.
But before the vote, Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon appeared on stage alongside the French far-right leader, telling her supporters to wear assertions they are ‘racist’ as a ‘badge of honour’.
To roaring applause, the former White House chief strategist told Front National supporters ‘history is on our side’.
He told the party congress: ‘Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honour.’
In voter’s minds the National Front identity still remains associated with Le Pen’s father and she was only able to achieve 33.9% of the Presidential vote in 2017.
Although anti-euro campaigning was popular with NF supporters, it proved a turn off for most French voters.