FRANCE

Front National replaces Le Pen with granddaughter in Nazi remarks row

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen last month
Marion Maréchal-Le Pen last month AFP

France's far-right Front National (FN) has named Jean-Marie Le Pen's granddaughter to stand in a seat that had been earmarked for him in regional elections this year. The party's founder will face a disciplinary hearing at the end of the month over recent remarks about Nazi gas chambers and World War II that angered his daughter, Marine, who now leads the movement.

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The FN on Friday announced the candidates who would head its slates in seven of France's 13 regions in December's polls.

Leading the charge in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (Paca) region around the south-eastern city of Marseille is Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, Jean-Marie's 25-year-old granddaughter, who is considered politically close to her grandfather.

Jean-Marie Le Pen on Monday pulled out of the race, following Marine Le Pen's vehement criticism of his two latest sallies - repeating his description of the Nazi gas chambers as a detail in the history of the war and defending Marshal Philippe Pétain, who led the government that collaborated with the German occupation.

Jean-Marie, who was taken to hospital with a "small heart problem" on Thursday, will face a disciplinary hearing of the party's executive committee at the end of April.

Marine and her allies believe his outbursts are sabotaging her attempts to clean up the party's image.

That project may face a challenge from Bruno Gollnisch, who also declared his interest in leading the Paca slate and then withdrew on Friday.

Gollnisch, who lost the battle for the party's leadership to Marine Le Pen in 2011, has criticised the measures taken against Jean-Marie Le Pen and called for an internal debate on the direction the party is taking.

 

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