Whats in a name Frances Le Pen proposes farright rebranding
Lille (France) (AFP) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen proposed changing the name of her party to the National Union on Sunday as part of efforts to improve its image after she was re-elected for a third term as leader.
At a party conference in the northeastern city of Lille, the 49-year-old suggested scrapping the existing name of the National Front (FN), which it has used since 1972 when it was co-founded by her father Jean-Marie.
The switch is meant to signal a new beginning and a decisive break from the toxic past of Jean-Marie who has a long history of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
He was finally banished from the party on Sunday, marking the final act in a vitriolic and highly personal power struggle between him and his daughter who took over the party in 2011.
Le Pen said the National Front name was "associated with a glorious and epic history that no one can deny" but she said it was also an impediment that prevented the party winning power in elections.
"For a lot of French people, even those who are sincere, it's a psychological barrier," Le Pen said of the historic name, adding that it stopped people becoming members and casting their votes for her.
National Front members are to be asked to vote on the name change and she promised to abide by their decision.
Le Pen scored a lower-than-expected 34 percent as she lost to President Emmanuel Macron in last May's national election and has since struggled to assert her authority after admitting to mistakes during her campaign.
She addressed the party faithful after being re-elected as their leader with 100 percent of votes on Sunday morning after standing unopposed.
- Bannon support -
The divorced mother of three won a major boost on Saturday from former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon who appeared alongside her at the National Front conference and told delegates that "history is on our side".
Bannon's appearance reinforced the links between the Trump campaign and France's far-right party which hold similar views on immigration, Islam, trade, the European Union and Russia.
Trump came close to endorsing Le Pen as she sought to defeat Macron last year.Read More...