Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

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

What's In A Name? France's Marine Le Pen Proposes Far Right Rebrand Marine Le Pen announced the proposed name change at a party conference in northeast France
Melinda Barton | 10 March, 2018, 23:13

"The tide of history is with us, and it will compel us to victory after victory after victory", Bannon claimed.

At a news conference following the address, Bannon waxed lyrical about Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the niece of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, seeing a great future ahead of the "rising star".

"Let them call you racists, let them call you xenophobes, let them call you nativists, wear it as a badge of honor", Bannon told members of the anti-mass immigration party in video published by The Washington Post.

"The National Front has grown up", Le Pen told French TV Friday night.

The rebranding is part of a long effort by Le Pen to give the National Front a softer, more mainstream image since taking over leadership from her father seven years ago.

Le Pen was hoping that the National Front congress in Lille would help her reassert her authority, after her defeat to pro-Europe centrist Emmanuel Macron prompted criticism of her style and policies.

Le Pen, running as the only candidate for National Front president, said the changes amount to a "cultural revolution" so the reshaped party can "implant itself, create alliances and govern".

The new moniker, if approved by members during a mail-in vote, will mark the ultimate break with Le Pen's father, who has called the idea a betrayal.

The changes pave the way for a younger leadership circle to emerge, even if the party's ideological foundation remains unchanged: nationalist, identity-driven, anti-European Union, according to Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the far-right.

Despite being ousted from his White House post past year and feuding with Trump in recent months, Bannon praised the president's "economic nationalism" that he said "does not care about your race, your religion, your ethnicity".

As FN president, she said she would propose a new name for the party at its conference on Sunday. The two have since fallen out, and the elder Le Pen was expelled from the party in 2015 over inflammatory remarks. The National Front today has changed in nature.