National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen hit back at daughter and party leader Marine after she suspended him from the far-right French movement, saying he hopes she loses the 2017 presidential election.
The party’s executive committee, chaired by Marine Le Pen, suspended his membership on Monday and said it would strip him of his title of honorary chairman after he repeated his view that Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” of the Second World War.
Marine Le Pen, who succeeded her father as party chief in 2011, has sought to rid the party of its anti- Semitic image and position it as an anti-immigrant Eurosceptic force to woo voters before the 2017 presidential elections.
The war of words between them escalated after his suspension, with the former paratrooper saying it would be “scandalous” if she were to become head of state.
“I’m ashamed that the president of the National Front has my name,” he said in an interview with Europe 1 radio station. He suggested his daughter get married so as to change her name.
Opinion polls indicate she could make it to the second round of the 2017 election but not win.
There has been no clear poll evidence so far of an overall impact on her popularity with voters, or of the party as a whole.
Several senior National Front party members said Jean-Marie Le Pen’s reaction merely justified the decision.
“Internal democracy functioned perfectly within the National Front and the decision is perfectly clear,” party treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just said on BFM TV.
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