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Far-right NF co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen to leave European Parliament

In this file photo taken on May 19, 2015, French European Parliament member and French far-right Front National (FN) party honorary president Jean-Marie Le Pen takes part in a voting session at the European Parliament.
In this file photo taken on May 19, 2015, French European Parliament member and French far-right Front National (FN) party honorary president Jean-Marie Le Pen takes part in a voting session at the European Parliament. Frederick FLORIN / AFP

Jean-Marie Le Pen is making his farewell to the European Parliament on Tuesday even if, the nonagenarian dreamed of being re-elected, "like Molière who wanted to die on the stage".

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The co-founder of the National Front, which he chaired for nearly 40 years before bequeathing it to his daughter Marine in 2011, was elected seven times in a row to the Strasbourg assembly He was also a deputy in France for two years from 1986 to 1988.

1984 breakthrough

In the European elections of 1984 the then National Front and precursor to the current National Rally, made its first real breakthrough.

At the time the party supported exiting France from Europe. In the elections, it finally managed to break the 10 percent vote barrier and, as a result, sent ten deputies to Strasbourg, including Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The MEP told reporters during the week that “it was the first victory after a long crossing of the desert" and his first memorable memory.

An unexpected chamber of echoes for the FN (now National Assembly), the European Parliament was also one of the worst enemies of the party.

The RN is now accused by the courts of having set up a "diversion system", for his benefit to pay for his parliamentary assistants.

Far-right figurehead

In parliament, Jean-Marie Le Pen was "the figurehead of the European far-right and his main speaker", sitting in the same group as the Italian neo-fascist party MSI, which "had very little interest in Strasbourg,” political scientist Jean-Yves Camus said.

His position also "allowed him to make contacts at the international level, showing that in the end, if the party was isolated inside - in France - he still had friends outside," he added.

But, excluded from the FN in 2015 after his comments on the gas chambers, it is unlikely he would have traction in the parliament as it is now.

At 90, he is getting used to the idea of “of no longer have an electoral mandate” but refuses to leave the political life.

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