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French far-right chief sees no future for dad in party

April 9, 2015

PARIS (AP) — The leader of France’s far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, repudiated her father on nationwide television Thursday, saying the man who founded the anti-immigration party more than four decades ago should leave.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is honorary president for life of the party, will be summoned before a disciplinary committee for anti-Semitic remarks and other offensive comments he made in two interviews, the party leader said without giving a date for the encounter.

Marine Le Pen reiterated in the interview on the TF1 TV station that she will not back her 86-year-old father’s candidacy in December regional elections, an important vote for the party as it tries to sink local roots ahead of the 2017 presidential vote. The party’s political bureau meets April 17 to choose candidates.

The ambitious Le Pen has worked to clean up the anti-Semitic and racist image of the National Front since she took over the reins from her father in 2011 with her eyes set on winning the presidential election. Her efforts have borne fruit, garnering electoral victories for one of Europe’s most visible far-right parties.

“Jean-Marie Le Pen should show wisdom. He should take the consequences of the trouble he himself has caused and perhaps end his political responsibilities,” daughter Le Pen said.

There was no immediate comment from Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Le Pen entered into an open war a day earlier with her father after he repeated comments that the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail in history,” for which he has been convicted and then made new offensive remarks in an extreme-right publication.

Le Pen has been convicted numerous times of racism or anti-Semitism, and his daughter has said she can offer no explanation for his provocative behavior.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, who may now be forced to end his political career, was the face of the National Front since its founding in 1972. Charismatic, cantankerous and an eloquent orator, he built the party into a decisive political force that for years served as kingmaker in French elections. He shocked, and frightened, the world, when he made it to the runoff of the 2002 presidential vote.

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