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France's far-right FN vice president quits over internal disputes

22 September, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • France's far-right party on verge of split after election defeat

National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen's top aide Florian Philippot resigned Thursday after an internal feud over the party's direction moving forward.

Florian Philippot's decision, announced on French broadcaster France 2, comes a day after he was stripped of his party responsibilities for strategy and communications by Le Pen for refusing to leave the presidency of his association Les Patriotes [The Patriots].

His departure threatens to split the party.

Mr Philippot said he did not "like being ridiculed".

Philippot played a key role in Le Pen's effort to scrub clean her party's racist and anti-Semitic image to make it more voter-friendly.

Philippot claimed that the party's "old demons" were sneaking back into the party, a reference to hard right values. Philippot created his own political movement within the National Front to protect this major point of the party's program.




"The great enterprise of refounding the national movement to which I invite you ... but also all French people, is inspired only by duty: the duty to take action and to win so that France can remain France for its children and for the world", Le Pen told supporters September 9 in the village of Brachay, according to Deutsche Presse Agentur.

Philippot has always been one of Le Pen's closest allies.

Mrs Le Pen, who pledged after losing the presidential race to Emmanuel Macron to be the "main voice of opposition" against the new centrist government, has been overshadowed of late by far-left rebel and former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose working-class rhetoric and unabashed criticism of the young president have widened his support base. It has played out on TV in numerous interviews by Philippot and party officials.

"One should stop trying to bury the National Front", she told LCP television. Le Pen and Philippot never had a direct meeting about their differences, both say.

Jérôme Fourquet, an expert on the far-right at polling group Ifop, said Philippot's exit would deprive the party of experienced policy writers. "All those who have taken this road and led a solitary adventure have disappeared", Le Pen said.

Philippot was playing the role of victim, Le Pen said. She is heading into a party congress early next year in her most fragile position since taking over leadership of the Front from her father in 2011, with the only comfort being that there are no clear contenders for her seat.

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