The Associated Press reports:
France’s far-right National Front definitively severed its ties to firebrand founder Jean-Marie Le Pen on Sunday, part of a makeover designed to revive the nationalist party’s fortunes after the ousted founder’s daughter failed to win the presidency last year.
Despite her troubles, Marine Le Pen was re-elected to a new term as party president at a congress where she was the only candidate for the post. National Front members also approved a new leadership structure and a 100-member governing council was named.
Party members approved new bylaws aimed at restructuring after internal divisions – and that include abolishing Jean-Marie Le Pen’s position of party president for life. The party tweeted Sunday that more than 79 per cent of participants approved the new statutes. The political mainstream was skeptical about any real change coming out of the congress.
The Independent reports:
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has proposed her National Front party be renamed the “National Rally” – le Rassemblement National – in a bid to try and improve its image and to help facilitate alliances with other parties.
“I propose that the National Front (FN) become the National Rally (Rassemblement National),” Ms Le Pen told an annual conference of members in the northeastern city of Lille. “But it’s you who will vote on it, it’s you who will decide.”
“Our goal is clear: power,” Ms Le Pen told the crowd, who cheered her speech denouncing immigration and the European project. “We were originally a protest party,” she added. “There should be no doubt now that we can be a ruling party.”
UPDATE: From the Guardian.
Although Le Pen has partially sanitised the FN’s image, the clean-up operation has not been wholly successful. On Saturday a video released on the internet appeared to show one of the party’s parliamentary assistants, and a leading figure in the FN youth movement, shouting a racist insult at a security guard at a bar. FN said afterwards the assistant concerned had been suspended pending investigation.
In her long closing speech, Le Pen outlined the lines the party would take. Her tone was both strident and at times rambling, veering from high-horse morality to mockery and defiance and back. “The party has put itself back on its feet, taken root and spread. Our fight is nothing less than a challenge for civilisation,” she said.
The elder Le Pen has been convicted multiple times for inciting racial hatred and for denying the Holocaust. In 2014 he “joked” that his critics like Madonna were going to be part of a “new batch” destined for the gas chambers.
Last year Marine Le Pen, who had vowed to repeal same-sex marriage if elected, sparked international outrage when she denied French collaboration with the Nazis. That same month her father declared that the state funeral for a gay cop killed by a terrorist was a farce intended to “exalt” LGBT rights.
— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) March 11, 2018
Marine Le Pen has a chance to give the National Front a less fashy name, picks that of a Vichy-supporting party/militia, the ‘National (Popular) Rally’. https://t.co/Ph8813akUw pic.twitter.com/8oR9u0d7fZ
— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) March 11, 2018