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France

Mixed reactions after French Front National kicks out party founder

media Jean-Marie Le Pen has been stripped of his membership, but will make a formal appeal Reuters/Christian Hartmann

A day after Jean-Marie Le Pen was stripped of his membership by the National Front’s executive committee, members and experts comment on how this will affect the future of the party, especially with upcoming elections.

Jean-Marie Le Pen immediately said he would make a formal appeal to his exclusion and take this decision to court. Hurt and angered by his exclusion from his very own party, he said that Marine Le Pen, his daughter, "ordered the firing squad by telephone ... She didn't want to be involved directly because she would look like a villain."

He added that "it's dirty to kill your own daddy, so she didn't kill daddy directly, she did it through her henchman."

"It's a logical conclusion of a very hard and violent conflict between the daughter and the father," Nonna Mayer, a political analyst, told RFI. "For months now, Jean-Marie Le Pen has been coming out with little sentences that de-legitimise his daughter, the people who are around her, her companion and the number two of the party, Florian Philippot.

"And he is also deliberately coming out with comments which are absolutely in contradiction with the line of Marine Le Pen, who is trying to make her party look normal, a party like the other parties, what she calls 'a strategy of de-demonisation' or 'de-diabolisation'."

Members of the National Front have already tried to have him pushed out several times. But he always comes back, sometimes taking them to court and winning.

"I think it's really surprising, astonishing even," Bruno Gollnisch, a euro-MP who has always sided with Jean-Marie Le Pen, told RFI. "This movement is heavily endebted to everything he did for the past decade. He founded the National Front, and it was a very, very small party and it became one of the most important in France.

"People who condemned him yesterday, they owe him all their situation, their mandates. That's also why I disagree with this decision."

Gollnisch added that he still hoped justice would prevail in this case, as it did in the past.

But this is not the opinion of all the members.

"Honestly, no one is saying 'this is extraordinary'," said Antoine Mellies, president of Audace, a group of mainly young entrepreneurs and activists who support Marine Le Pen. "But the difference is that we want to talk about our politics, topics that really concern the French. We want to be in the field to prepare the upcoming regional elections, which look quite good for the party.

"For months now, Jean-Marie Le Pen has been denigrating the movement, has been hoping his daughter will fail at the 2017 presidential election … At some point, we need to clarify things and we have to restore order within the party even if it affects him," Mellies said.

"It’s hard for us, because he is Jean-Marie Le Pen, but this clash was inevitable.”

Mellies says Marine Le Pen has the full support of the young generation, a fact confirmed by recent polls. 

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