When her father had for the first time uttered the phrase about the gas-chambers (“I have not thoroughly studied the issue but I think it has to do with a detail in the history of the second world war”) she had just turned nineteen. Too young to go against that way of thinking, she was still too far from the international political arena to be able to perceive the effects. Marine Le Pen adored her father; besides Jean Marie, was a coherent man, a strong man. He had been a “pupil of the nation”, after his father Jean, fisherman and municipal councillor of the little Breton town in Sainte-Trinité-sur-Mer, had passed away at sea in his fishing-boat over a mine. An orphan, he was adopted by the state, Jean Marie had always loved provocations, they had been his distinctive hallmark since his youth; at 16, he was recruited in the first parachute- battalion, he wrote on Caravelle, a French expeditionary newspaper “France is governed by pederasts like Sartre, Camus, Mauriac”.
At 27, Le Pen is the youngest member of parliament in France. With such a parent, it was impossible not to be fascinated by him. And when Jean-Marie’s political line took a stand to the estreme far-right, Marine was there taking her first steps in politics. Jean Marie had always spoken up: which always amazed many, which conferred on him an aura of strength and determination towards his voters, gathering much consensus.
In 1972 the neo-fasscist movement “Ordre nouveau” decided to pursue a democratic game his objectives was to restore patriotism and “hierarchy of values”, and give rise to the Front National, who appointed Jean-Marie Le Pena s their leader. Marine grows in the estreme right- wing arena, with net concepts, and strong words. And she too has never made an effort not to speak her mind. But she was so trained- even politically- while Europe was being constituted and it is a reality which one cannot but take into account; not necessarily meaning to agree with it, but also to make her become a concrete “enemy” and not permeate its action only of political nostalgia.
At the Congress of Tours in November 2011, the patriarch relinquishes his leadership to his daughter, who immediately starts transforming the Front National from anti-system movement to political party which aims in governing France. She does away with any connection with the skinheads, those nostalgic of nazi-fascism, French presedential election campaign on 22 April 2012. On the first round, she manages to obtain 17,9 per cent of consensus, ranking third place, soon after the socialist Hollande and outgoing President Sarkozy. She gained more than her father however, without giving up on strong standpoints, which were the communicating feature of her party.
It was right in that year, in fact that the same Marine was under enquiry by the prosecutors in Lyons for incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence towards a group of people because of their religion. Her clear-cut positions were once again to pay the toll: following her great success at the European elections in 2014 (first party in France), in March 2015 she leads the Front National at 25,19% obtained at the departemental elections while the moderates of Nicolas Sarkozy obtain 29,4% and the Socialists and their allies collected 21,8%: it was the best result of all times in local elections. And then an unexpected drop ensued: in the second round she failed to obtain even one department.
Perhaps the time had come to soften tones, if she did not want to be relegated to the margins of political life in France and of the Union. And here then, her father’s declarations on the gas-chambers, that were exactly the same as when she was a young girl, came in useful then to rid herself of the maximalist role that had distinguished the FN. Thus began a family row, like in a soap opera of the ones she grew up with, for the use and consumption of the media. The leader of the party, live on National TV news broadcast at 8.00pm had publicly announced taking disciplinary measures against her father and founder of the party following his repeated xenophobic and anti-semitic styled provocations; last in line, interviewed by a estreme-right wing magazine Rivarol, had difende Marshall Petain, head of the French collaborator movement with the Nazis. He answered with aloofness: “I’m not able to under stand the cause for his actions, the various stages of his evolution. Mrs Le Pen is triggering off an explosion, she had the possibility of winning and she herself is creating enormous problems to him, who in addition, is also her father.”
The meeting to decide the fate of the 86 year old Jean-Marie Le Pen has been fixed in the party’s Headquarters on 17th April. At the meeting, not only will father and daughter be present but also five vice-presidents of FN, the Treasurer and general-secretary. There is however one doubt: that this public family-row may have been a mock-up in order to retrieve the votes of extremists and moderates. But it is a dangerous game to play: identity – in particular, in a nation like France – is an extremely important aspect. No longer recognising oneself under a certain political line could prove dangerousin terms of public consensus. On the contrary, fundamentalists may have reached their climax, and therefore, they avoid the obstacle or go bck to the undertow of votes. Whatever the choice, the risk of other disappointments from the polls is very high. And who knows if- seeing the return of Sarkozy on the political arena – this family saga not be at the end of the chapter of its existance. By dint of continual rows, Fronte National really risks the end of… le Pen.
Translation provided by Marina Stronati