Jean-Marie Le Pen sets up own group after Front National expulsion
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Former French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has set up a new political organisation, following his explusion from the Front National (FN), which he cofounded. Membership of the group should not be incompatible with FN membership, he claimed. His daughter Marine, who now leads the party, may disagree.
Jean-Marie Le Pen told supporters he wanted to start a movement dubbed the "Blue White and Red Rally" with the aim of uniting those without FN party membership and those still loyal to him.
"The Front National and Marine Le Pen will not be able to refuse our move," he declared.
His daughter Marine le pen saw things differently however.
Provisionally called the Rassemblement Bleu-Blanc-Rouge (Blue-White-Red Rally) after the colours of the French flag, the organisation will be like Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement Bleu-Marine (Marine Blue Rally), Jean-Marie Le Pen claimed.
That organisation was set up to involve far-right groups outside the FN in its electoral campaigns.
Le Pen père says his aim is to "reunite" the movement but also to bring it back to the political positions it stood for under his leadership, in other words to reject Marine's efforts to rebrand the party.
The 87-year-old made the announcement at a "patriotic meal" with about 300 supporters in Marseille, where the FN was holding its annual summer school.
Marine Le Pen wanted to focus on regional elections in December and Jean-Marie was not invited following his expulsion for disrupting the party's efforts to acqure a new look.
"Jean-Marie Le Pen can create all the groups he wants - he's been promising one for months - there are no groups within the FN," Marine responded on hearing the news.
Even if Le Pen the father’s speech got loud applause, it’s unclear how much support there would be for a new group.
A large majority of members reportedly voted for a new constitution that would have stripped him of his honorary presidency before the vote was stopped due to a legal challenge by Le Pen senior.
There may be a problem with the organisation's name, too.
The term "Rassemblement Bleu-Blanc-Rouge" is currently the property of right-wing anti-taxation campaigner and repeat presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, according to Le Monde.
"It'll be something to do with Bleu-Blanc-Rouge," one of Jean-Marie Le Pen's allies told the paper.
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