Le Pen banned from public office

JEAN-MARIE LE PEN, the leader of the French far-right, was banned from public life for two years yesterday after being found guilty of riotous behaviour on the campaign trail last May.

The court decision bars him from running for any public office, or voting, until 2000. It does not prevent him from continuing as President of the xenophobic National Front but could strengthen the hand of those within the party who would like to put him out to grass.

When the prosecution demanded the ban during the original court hearing in February, Mr Le Pen, 69, was visibly shaken. He said that such a punishment could bring his 50-year political career to a "premature end". While this may be exaggerated, it could certainly promote the already relentless rise of his smooth-talking number two, Bruno Megret.

In a delayed judgment, Mr Le Pen was convicted by the court in Versailles of riotous and insulting behaviour during running street-battles in the small town of Mantes-la-Jolie, west of Paris. He was captured on television film screaming and grabbing at the clothes of the local Socialist candidate (now MP), Annette Peulvast-Bergeal. The court said yesterday that Mr Le Pen had "sought physical confrontation" with his opponents. Such "provocative and aggressive behaviour" was unworthy of a political leader and must be "severely punished".

Apart from the two-year suspension of his civic rights, Mr Le Pen was fined pounds 2,000 and given a suspended three-month prison sentence. The NF announced that its leader would appeal.

If this fails, Mr Le Pen will be prevented from leading the Front's list in the European elections next year. He will be stripped of the seat he won last month in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur regional assembly.

No parliamentary or presidential elections are scheduled until 2002 but Mr Le Pen would be banned if either poll was to be called early (which is not out of the question). Mr Le Pen is already under attack within his own party for his clumsy handling of local deals with centre-right politicians last month, which did great damage to the moderate right but might have achieved more.

A younger generation of NF activists now scents a chance of real power. They have come to regard the brutal charisma of Mr Le Pen as more of a trap than an asset. Initially, the party will feel obliged to rally round its "martyred" and "victimised" leader; in the longer run, the ban, coupled with his age, might signal the end of the Le Pen era.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Web Developer - Magento

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Greater London - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Ric...

SThree: IT Recruitment Consultant

£22500 - £30000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking for experie...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat