France's Le Pen family feud deepens with 'dead' claim

Jean-Marie Le Pen kissing his daughter Marine Image copyright AFP
Image caption How will the rift between father and daughter affect the National Front party?

The family feud at the heart of France's far-right National Front party appears to have deepened, with Jean-Marie Le Pen telling a radio station his daughter Marine "may want me dead".

He also described calls for him to step down as honorary president of the party as "crazy".

Marine has condemned her father for his recently repeated claims that Nazi gas chambers were a "detail of history".

She says she will stop him from standing in polls later this year.

On Wednesday, she said in a statement (in French) that her father "seems to have entered a veritable spiral between a scorched earth strategy and political suicide".

"Given this situation, I have told him I will oppose... his candidacy in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur," she said.

She said his "crude provocations seem aimed at harming me but, alas, they have dealt a very heavy blow to the whole movement".

Turbulent times

In a sign she is supported by others in the National Front (FN) leadership, party vice-president Florian Philippot suggested Jean-Marie Le Pen should resign from the party he founded 40 years ago.

But in response, the 86-year-old warned the FN was at risk of imploding if he agreed to the "crazy idea" of stepping down.

"The prestige that I obviously still have within the Front National would provoke a considerable stir, and a loss of influence for [Marine] that she probably doesn't gauge," he told RTL radio on Thursday.

"Marine Le Pen may want me dead, that's possible, but she must not count on my co-operation," he added.

Image copyright AFP

Jean-Marie Le Pen: a career in controversy

  • 1987 - First makes his infamous remarks describing the Holocaust as a "detail of history"
  • 1997 - Assaults rival Annette Peulvast-Bergeal during parliamentary election campaign
  • 2006 - One of many convictions for inciting racial hatred over inflammatory remarks about France's Muslim population
  • 2007 - Tells Le Monde newspaper "you can't dispute the inequality of the races"
  • 2015 - Repeats views on the Holocaust, prompting Marine Le Pen to accuse him of trying to "rescue himself from obscurity"

A family feud on the French far-right

A step closer to power for the FN?

From 'untouchables' to EU force

The rift opened up after Mr Le Pen earlier this month gave a radio interview in which he repeated his controversial remarks on the Nazi gas chambers, as well as saying the French wartime leader Marshal Petain was unfairly maligned.

He went on to say that France was governed by immigrants - singling out Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is of Spanish heritage - and that France needed an alliance with Russia to save the "world of the whites".

Marine Le Pen is widely expected to run for president in 2017.

Last month the FN polled 25% of votes in the first round of local elections.

While lower than some opinion polls had predicted, correspondents say that performance showed that Marine Le Pen's strategy, including shutting down the party's overtly racist elements, is paying off.

However, the party has faced a turbulent time in recent weeks, with the European Parliament calling in the EU's anti-fraud squad to investigate possible financial irregularities involving the party.

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