Jean Marie Le Pen courts controversy again in memoires

France's far right bête noire Jean-Marie Le Pen is likely to upset more than a few people with the first volume of his memoirs. Meanwhile, his daughter's niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, who shares some of his hard-line views, prepares to re-enter the political arena.

Jean-Marie Le Pen
Jean-Marie Le Pen Je ne suis pas de ceux qui embarquent dans les canots de sauvetage pendant la tempête, mais de ceux qui montent sur la passerelle pour prendre leurs responsabilités

France's wartime leader Philippe Petain did not dishonour himself by signing the 1940 armistice that allowed Nazi forces to occupy the north of the country, far-right former leaderJean-Marie Le Pen says in his memoirs.

Petain "was legal and legitimate", the co-founder of the National Front (FN) party says in "Fils de la Nation" (Son of the Nation), the first volume of his memoirs due to be published on February 28.

The Nazis occupied the north of France including Paris, and Petain's Vichy regime collaborated with their campaign against Jews.

Under Petain, the Vichy regime put to death up to 15,000 people and helped deport nearly 80,000 to Nazi concentration camps.

According to extracts published on Tuesday in the French press, the 89-year-old Le Pen writes: "I'm all for discussing the policy of collaboration, its faults and its excesses, on condition that we examine the faults and excesses of everyone."

The former paratropper, who is estranged from his daughter Marine, has been convicted repeatedly for anti-Semitic and xenophobic comments.

He was expelled from the National Front in 2015 for his views on the Nazi gas chambers -- he has called the Holocaust a "detail of history" -- and for defending the Vichy regime.

However, a French court ruled the following year that he should be allowed to remain as the party's honorary president.

Marion Le Pen returns?

Meanwhile,the niece of the party’s current leader Marine Le Pen, a hardliner tipped as a possible future leade,, will share a stage this week with President Donald Trump and other US conservatives.

Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a 27-year-old former MP, is to mark her return to the public eye with a speech nine months after she said she was withdrawing from politics

She will address the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland on Thursday as the second headline speaker, shortly after Vice President Mike Pence. Trump will speak at the same event on Friday.

Marechal-Le Pen's re-appearance is likely to fuel speculation about her intentions after she stepped back from politics in May last year, supposedly to pursue a career in the private sector.

With her hardline stance on immigration, Islam and abortion, she is popular among grassroots FN members, particularly in its heartland in southern France.

Her speech coincides with difficulties for Marine Le Pen who polled 34 percent in the run-off round of the presidential election last May -- a record score for the FN that nonetheless fell below expectations.

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