French court cancels elder Le Pen's suspension from far-right FN

2nd July 2015, Comments 0 comments

A French court on Thursday cancelled the suspension of Jean-Marie Le Pen from the far-right National Front after he was booted out of the party he founded in a bitter spat with his daughter.

The court ordered the party to "restore" Le Pen's membership and position as honorary president two months after he was ousted by his daughter Marine, who now leads the party.

It said that while Le Pen's suspension was justified, the party "violated statutory rules" by not specifying it was a temporary measure pending a disciplinary procedure.

Le Pen, 87, was suspended in May over a string of controversial remarks that led to a vicious row with his daughter, whom he publicly disowned.

Marine decided enough was enough after her father repeated his view that the Nazi gas chambers were merely a "detail" of history and also claimed that France had to get along with Russia to save the "white world".

Accusing him of committing "political suicide", she withdrew her support for his bid for election in December regional polls.

The elder Le Pen's lawyer Frederic Joachim said his client "can once again use his office from tomorrow morning" and take part in all internal workings of the party his position of honorary president allows.

The FN swiftly announced it would appeal the court ruling, which it said was based on a "technicality".

In any case, the party founder looks set to lose his role of honorary president at a special meeting of FN members to be held in July, where a vote will be held to scrap the position.

While the FN remains anti-EU and anti-immigration it has worked hard to soften its image since Marine Le Pen took over in 2011 and has seen its popularity soar, enjoying a series of election successes.

Several polls have shown she could pose a serious challenge to the conservative Republicans of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy as well as the ruling Socialists in 2017 elections.

After the octogenarian firebrand's suspension his fight with his daughter grew even uglier, with the former paratrooper saying he no longer wanted to see his daughter elected president in 2017 and was ashamed she still carried his name.

The rift was laid bare for all to see during the party's traditional May 1 rally in Paris when the elder Le Pen -- conspicuously dropped from a line-up of FN leaders on stage -- strode uninvited onto the podium, grabbing the limelight as his daughter readied to make her speech.

"I think that was a malicious act, I think it was an act of contempt towards me," Marine said.

"I get the feeling that he can't stand that the National Front continues to exist when he no longer heads it."

© 2015 AFP

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