Le Pen accuses NF rivals of `racism'
Wednesday 09 December 1998
An atmosphere of fearreigned at the NF headquarters in Saint Cloud yesterday, as leading members of the party turned their well-honed powers of vituperation and paranoia against one another. Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party's president, stalked the corridors, suspending senior officials he suspected of supporting hisrival, Bruno Megret.
After months of submerged warfare, Mr Le Pen, 70, has publicly accused Mr Megret of leading "a minority of extremists, even racists" in a putsch against him (the first time that Mr Le Pen has admitted that any part of his party is racist).
The NF secretary-general, Bruno Gollnisch - a Le Pen loyalist - said on television that the party was the victim of a "take-over bid by foreign powers", including the "American secret services". Mr Megret, 49, may be many things, including a racist, but it is difficult to picture him as an agent of the CIA.
His followers, far from cowed, are pushing for an emergency congress of the party in February. The rebels believe that if the grass roots could be consulted, they could end Mr Le Pen's 26-year reign as "Chef" of the most powerful extreme nationalist party in western Europe. More likely, the far right - a fragile alliance of mutually loathing groups - is about to split into separate movements. This would give the centre-right parties a golden opportunity to reconquer the ground lost since Mr Le Pen's breakthrough in 1984.
A Stalinesque purge of Mr Megret's supporters has gathered pace since a turbulent meeting of the NF national council at the weekend, when Mr Le Pen was booed by some senior NF members.
One leading Megret supporter, Pierre Vial, compared Mr Le Pen to Louis XVI: An out-of-touch monarch, unable to comprehend the insurgent forces around him.
Mr Vial was ejected from the party on Monday.
Another leading official, Serge Martinez, was ordered to prepare a hit- list of local activists and officials who supported Mr Megret. He refused and was ordered out of the party by Mr Le Pen in person as he walked down a corridor in the NF headquarters. In a press conference, Mr Martinez said a "witch-hunt" was in progress and the "very survival of the NF is at stake".
Mr Megret is unlikely to walk out; but he may be pushed. He is estimated to enjoy the support of 60 out of 100 members of the central committee and 17 out of 40 members of the party's political bureau, as well as the majority on several regional councils of the party.
Mr Megret's supporters, mostly young or middle aged, believe that he can move the party out of the ideological ghetto created by Mr Le Pen and begin to form electoral alliances that would bring them, and some of their extreme nationalist and xenophobic ideas, to power.
Mr Le Pen and his supporters, including most of the party's old guard but also many younger front activists, accuse Mr Megret of being prepared to exchange the party's ideological purity for a few cabinet posts. Most of all, perhaps, the struggle is about Mr Le Pen's refusal to accept that the NF is no longer his personal fiefdom.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...