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France

Jean-Marie Le Pen warns France Front National not ready for power

media Jean-Marie Le Pen (L) steals his daughter Marine's thunder at the party's traditional 1 May rally Reuters

The founder of France's Front National (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen, has told the far-right party that it is still a long way from power in the latest broadside in a bitter political battle with his daughter, Marine, the movement's current leader. Le Pen gave the warning in a speech to a party disciplinary committee and published it on his blog on Friday.

Furious at being summoned to explain himself to the FN's new leadership for remarks about the Nazi gas chambers and World War II, Jean-Marie Le Pen lashed out at his daughter and her allies.

He made it clear that he did not believe their efforts to change the party's image were responsible for the party's recent electoral successes and that, anyway, those successes were perhaps not as resounding as they might seem.

"It is events that have won over our fellow citizens," Le Pen told the party's political bureau. "The ineluctable deterioration of the situation ... can bring us to power and its awesome responsibilities but we are not on the brink of power, far from it."

The FN was the party won the most votes in France in last year's European elections and this year's departmental ones but on a low turnout that meant that its roughly five million votes in each case was lower than Marine Le Pen's score in the 2012 presidential poll, where turnout was much higher.

The result should not blind the movement to its weaknesses, Jean-Marie Le Pen warned.

"The number of votes won should be the real figure of reference. Our organisation, although it is making progress, is still very imperfect, as is the training of our cadres."

Le Pen père is particularly scornful of FN vice-president Florian Philippot, who was quick to announce a "final breach" after his latest controversial remarks.

Philippot and his allies have launched "insulting attacks" on him, Le Pen claims, and goes on to imply that he has recruited masses of full-time workers who want to wipe out his legacy.

On his controversial remarks he remains unrepentant.

"I'm reproached with not respecting the 'line of the FN'. But which? That of the president? That of the people who issue 10-15 statements a week?"

His bitterness against the alleged apparatchiks was the reason Jean-Marie Le Pen refused to attend the party's executive committee, made up of full-time workers, some of whom he says have been "very amply" paid.

Solidarity inside the party has become weaker, he claims.

"We are afraid of having a reputation of bad republicans. Are we becoming France's most important antifascist and antiracist party?"

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