Marine Le Pen’s bid to defy the odds and win the French presidency risked a setback on Friday when the man named interim head of her National Front party stood down to defend himself against charges he shares the views of Holocaust deniers. After an intense day of campaigning days ahead of a May 7 runoff vote in which both the far-right’s Le Pen and her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron were carried back to the events of World War Two, surveys continued to show the independent Macron well ahead.The abrupt departure of Jean-Francois Jalkh from the FN party leadership before he had even taken on the job raised ghosts of the FN’s past and revived a furore sparked by Le Pen’s father when he called the Nazi gas chambers a “detail” of history.
The renewed controversy threatens moves by Le Pen, who expelled her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, from the party two years ago, to cleanse the FN’s image of xenophobic and anti-semitic associations and make it more palatable to a broader electorate. “With all we know of the revisionist views the Le Pen family has voiced in the past, there comes a time when the women and men of France must open their eyes to where the National Front comes from,” Macron’s campaign director Richard Ferrand said.The presidential contest has blown apart traditional party loyalties, presenting voters with a stark choice between a resurgent far right, once a pariah in French politics, and a man whose political movement is less than a year old and who has never held elected office.
It sets Macron’s enthusiasm for the European Union and call for pro-business reforms to boost growth against Le Pen’s desire for France to close its borders to immigrants, unwind EU institutions and restrict imports to protect jobs. Most opinion polls show him winning next Sunday, with 60 percent or more of the vote, a slightly smaller margin than a week ago. Jalkh, a long-time ally of Le Pen senior who founded the National Front, was one of 35 FN members elected to parliament in the mid-1980s. He had been due to take over as interim party chief, a post Marine Le Pen has vacated to focus on the presidential race.”He (Jalkh) wants to defend himself and he will be filing a legal complaint… I can tell you he firmly and formally contests what he is accused of,” FN member Louis Aliot, Marine Le Pen’s partner in private life, said on BFM TV.
Le Pen herself later told the same news channel “There is no one in the leadership of the National Front who defends this sort of thesis.” Steeve Briois, another of the party’s four vice presidents, would take Jalkh’s place, Aliot said. At issue are comments attributed to Jalkh in a conversation with a researcher in 2005 about the work of Robert Faurisson, a professor convicted more than once for questioning the scale of Jewish extermination in Nazi gas chambers during World War Two. Newspaper articles relayed the Holocaust-related comments Jalkh was purported to have made. Also unearthed was a newspaper report from 1991 that said Jalkh had attended an anniversary rally held by supporters of Marshal Philippe Petain, French wartime leader and Nazi collaborator, in July of that year.Le Pen’s father has been convicted of inciting racial hatred for his remarks on the Holocaust, and referred to them himself as recently as 2015.GAY MARRIAGE JIBE
GAY MARRIAGE JIBE A thorn in her side, the
A thorn in her side, the 88-year-old has refused to be silent as his daughter bids for power.
He courted controversy again on Friday, saying a remembrance ceremony for a policeman killed last week by an attacker in Paris “exalted” the concept of gay marriage by giving the policeman’s male partner the stage to speak in his memory.Marine Le Pen attended the state ceremony with other political figures including Macron, and distanced herself from her father’s comment on Friday.
“I felt it was a very dignified ceremony and I was very moved by the speech of his partner,” she said. As Le Pen and her party grappled with the latest turn of events, Macron campaigned at a village preserved as it was when World War Two SS soldiers killed nearly all of its inhabitants in 1944. “Deciding not to remember is to take the risk of repeating history,” Macron said in Oradour-sur-Glane, near Limoges in central France, now a memorial to the dead, in a thinly veiled attack on the FN for the anti-immigrant policies he says are fuelling divisions in French society.