Le Pen's father criticizes her
presidential campaign as she steps back from party
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[April 25, 2017]
By Michel Rose
PARIS (Reuters) - French far-right veteran
Jean-Marie Le Pen said on Tuesday his daughter Marine, who faces
centrist Emmanuel Macron in a May 7 presidential runoff, should have
campaigned more aggressively for Sunday's first round, following the
example of Donald Trump.
With 7.5 million votes, Marine Le Pen beat the National Front party's
previous election record on Sunday but failed to pip pro-EU Macron to
the first place.
The intervention by her father follows her announcement on Monday that
she plans to step back from day-to-day management of the far-right party
he founded ahead of the runoff and marks the latest tussle between the
two of them over its future direction.
"I think her campaign was too laid-back. If I'd been in her place I
would have had a Trump-like campaign, a more open one, very aggressive
against those responsible for the decadence of our country, whether left
or right," 88-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen told RTL radio.
The two have been at odds since Marine Le Pen launched moves to clean
the National Front's image of xenophobic associations in the run-up to
the campaign for the 2017 presidency.
Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked the world in 2002 by qualifying for the second
round of the presidential election and then went on to lose in a
landslide to conservative Jacques Chirac.
He was frequently accused of making xenophobic and anti-Semitic
statements and Le Pen expelled him from the party in 2015, though as the
party's founder he remains a well-known figure and represents a body of
opinion in the party.
In another sign of his influence, the National Front has borrowed about
6 million euros from a political fundraising association he heads.
Marine Le Pen's decision to take a leave of absence from the day-to-day
management of the party appeared to be an attempt to portray herself as
being above the narrow world of National Front politics and broaden her
appeal to the wider electorate ahead of the crucial runoff vote.
[to top of second column]
Marine Le Pen (L), French National Front (FN) political party
candidate for French 2017 presidential election, speaks with
employees as she visits the meat pavilion at the Rungis
international food market, near Paris, during her campaign, France,
April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Her program calls for sharp curbs on immigration and on the rights
of immigrants living in France, as well as the expulsion of
foreigners under suspicion of having militant Islamist links.
But she is seeking all the same to distance herself from the toxic
legacy of her father and the xenophobic and anti-semitic undertones
of his previous campaigns.
Under France's Fifth Republic, the president is the head of state,
very much like a monarch in other countries, a role described by
founder Charles De Gaulle as being above party politics - something
Le Pen may have had in mind in her Monday night statement.
She may also be seeking to play Macron at his own game, as the
39-year old centrist has refused to join mainstream parties, and
consistently described his "En Marche!" (Onwards!) party structure
as a "movement" transcending the left-right divide.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Philippa
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