France's far-right party on verge of split after election defeat

Saul Bowman
September 22, 2017

Second main figure of France's far-right National Front party (FN) Florian Philippot said he was leaving the anti-euro party on Thursday as internal disputes split ranks of Marine Le Pen after her defeat in the presidency race.

Rather than softening her stance on the European Union in the wake of his departure, Le Pen said she would pursue that line. "I don't like ridicule, and I have never liked doing nothing, so of course I am leaving the National Front".

The far-right chief consequently withdrew Mr Philippot's responsibilities within the FN late on Wednesday, pushing him to resign.

Philippot is seen as the champion of the party's opposition to the euro and its pledges to quit the shared currency - one of the policies believed to have badly damaged Marine Le Pen in the May election where she was beaten by centrist Emmanuel Macron. "Every time people have tried to do it, it came out better-structured, stronger and more powerful".

The party, which came third in the parliamentary election in June, is to hold a congress in early 2018, where internal conflicts are likely to come to a head.

"I watched the party struggle to refound itself... It's flawless", he said in reaction to Philippot's departure.

Philippot reacted to the decision by saying the party would "regret bitterly" and renounced the ongoing re-foundation of the National Front, calling it "a terrifying step back" on its political line.

A "pretext", according to the man who was the conductor of the "dédiabolisation" the extreme-right party, to hide the "back" awful "of FN in the discussion of the "reinvention" undertaken by Marine Le Pen".

Philippot was playing the role of victim, Le Pen said.

Sophie Montel, one of Philippot's closest aides and an FN member for over 30 years, said on Twitter she was quitting the party.

"There will be those who are disappointed because in a divorce like that ... there always are", Luis Aliot, another vice president and Le Pen's companion, said on BFM-TV.

The resignation of the No. 2 party she will eventually poison the relationship between Le Pen and his companion?

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