French far-right veteran Le Pen in new win in daughter feud

8th July 2015, Comments 0 comments

French far-right veteran Jean-Marie Le Pen scored another victory Wednesday when a court suspended a ballot organised by the National Front (FN) party he founded on whether to scrap his post as honorary president.

Embroiled in a bitter feud with his daughter Marine who now runs the FN, Le Pen announced last week he would take legal action to try to block the party from changing its statutes and eliminating his post.

More than 50,000 party faithful had until Friday to vote on the issue by postal ballot.

But a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said it had decided to postpone the ballot "until the organisation of an extraordinary general meeting which complies with current statutes" -- a decision the FN has said it will appeal.

This is a second victory for the 87-year-old party founder, whose suspension from the party in May was overturned by a court last week.

Le Pen was evicted 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 France had to get along with Russia to save the "white world".

But a court ordered her to restore his membership as his suspension had "violated statutory rules" by not specifying it was a temporary measure pending a disciplinary procedure.

Marine brushed off that decision as a "Pyrrhic victory" for her father ahead of this week's vote which was expected to strip him of his honorary presidency.

But the ruling blocking that vote will come as a blow to the 46-year-old party leader.

She announced last week she would compete in regional elections this year that are considered a key test ahead of presidential polls in 2017.

"I have fought all my life and I continue to fight against injustice, including when I'm the victim," Le Pen senior said after Wednesday's decision.

"Courts have twice ruled against Mrs Le Pen and the FN's leadership."

In a statement, meanwhile, the party criticised the courts for "expending a lot of energy to preserve Jean-Marie Le Pen's ability to harm the National Front, ignoring his behaviour and his comments."

While the FN remains anti-EU and anti-immigration, it has worked hard to soften its image since Marine took over from her father 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.

© 2015 AFP

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