Front National suspends founder Le Pen
The far-right French party Front National ousted its co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen on Monday. His daughter and party leader Marine Le Pen had him suspended for making anti-Semitic statements. A clever gambit aimed at making the party acceptable, some commentators believe. Others stress that even without Le Pen senior the Front National will remain on the far right.
Using political correctness to secure power
Jean-Marie Le Pen was suspended from the Front National for his verbal attacks and not for his right-wing extremist views, the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments: "In 2002 his criticism of the ruling parties got him all the way to the runoff vote in the presidential elections. Back then it became clear how afraid Le Pen was at the prospect of assuming political responsibility. His daughter, however, is driven by a desire for power that is alien and daunting to Jean-Marie. The conflict is not about a disagreement over political direction. Marine Le Pen has by no means renounced her father's views. But she wants to get into government and for that reason can no longer tolerate her father's violations of political correctness. By 'discarding' the old tribune of the people, Marine Le Pen is making it more difficult for the established parties to continue shutting her out politically."
Front National still on the far right
Honorary chairman Jean-Marie Le Pen's suspension doesn't alter the party's right-wing extremist programme in the least, the left-liberal daily Libération warns: "Marine Le Pen knows what she's doing: with this theatrical break with her father she is underscoring the change in strategy effected a few years ago. 'How can you demonise me when I've rid the party of its demon?' she'll say. A large part of public opinion will give her credit for this understandable, spectacular and melodramatic break. But what's it really all about? If the FN is putting a damper on its anti-Semitism, it's because it has switched its scapegoat. It's no longer the Jews but the Arabs who are the targets of its hostility. Or more precisely, the Muslims. ... And while the exclusion of the party founder is a strong gesture, the party's programme hasn't changed in the least after this psychodrama."
Critical global situation helps Le Pen
The dispute with her father may seem disadvantageous to Marine Le Pen right now but her party will continue to profit from the crises in this world until the presidential election in 2017, writes the liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios: "The threat of a Greek bankruptcy and an exit from the EU by the UK, which is being rocked by Scottish separatism, unresolvable conflicts in the Arab world and in Sub-Saharan Africa, illegal immigration and the jihad. All this works in Marine Le Pen's favour. The political patricide was an inevitable step in which a person who had become a hindrance to the party's expansion was tossed overboard. … Marine Le Pen must endure her father's rage for now but she stands good chances of facing Nicolas Sarkozy in the second round of the presidential election in 2017.