Show Must Go On: Steve Bannon Set to Address French National Front

Larry Hoffman
March 11, 2018

Marine Le Pen will try to shore up her damaged leadership of the National Front by relaunching the party under a new, less sulphurous name.

"Bannon, former strategic advisor to United States president, represents rejection of the establishment of which one of the worst symbols is Brussels's EU". That meeting came after Bannon met flew to Italy ahead of last Sunday's national election, lending his support to anti-establishment and populist parties. The new name, to be announced tomorrow, is meant to distance the party from the toxic aura that it earned under her father, who handed her the leadership in 2011.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is set to propose a name change for the National Front, part of a makeover created to make the anti-immigration party relevant again after she was defeated by Emmanuel Macron in the presidential race.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Saturday told a crowd of far-right French politicians to let people label them as "racist", and to consider it "a badge of honor".

This week Le Pen seemed heartened by the strong gains made by the allied anti-immigrant League party in Italy's general election, hailing it as a "new stage in the awakening of the people".

Macron won with 66% of the vote vs. 34% for Le Pen, who had threatened to curb immigration and pull France out of the European Union, among other measures.

At the conference in Lille, in the FN's northern heartlands, Le Pen will urge the party to move away from the mindset of being a permanent opposition, ground it has occupied since it was founded, to broadening its appeal with a view to governing. Jean-Marie Le Pen also is to be scratched from the party's books along with his title of honorary president-for-life, formally closing, if not ending, a bitter father-daughter feud.

Steve Bannon tells National Front members in France history is on their side
Steve Bannon to French Far-Right: “Let Them Call You Racist…Wear It as a Badge of Honor”

At home, she is banking on divisions between pro-Macron centrists and rightwingers tearing his party apart, making the FN France's biggest party of the right. Steve Bannon has given a big boost to French far right leader Marine Le Pen, telling a cheering crowd at a congress of her National Front party that "history is on our side".

Recent polling showed that 55% of respondents don't want Le Pen to run in the next election.

"Right or left doesn't mean anything and doesn't reflect the real division in France today which is between those who feel the nation is an obstacle and those who feel the nation is a jewel to be defended", she said.

Bannon, a surprise speaker at the event, has been touring European cities to meet with right-wing party members.

After threatening to crash the congress, with armed guards if necessary, the elder Le Pen said he would skip it.

The Front National (FN) have been out of the media limelight after their defeat to Emmanuel Macron in last May's presidential elections.

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