The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has broken a bone in her lower spine by falling into an empty swimming pool at her mansion near Paris.
The accident happened a week ago but was kept secret until her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, replaced her at a political rally in Limoges on Saturday night.
“Marine couldn’t come because she has had a rather serious accident which prevents her from travelling,” Mr Le Pen said. “She fell into her empty swimming pool and broke her vertebral column.” The statement caused such a wave of consternation at the meeting, and within the wider party, that Marine, 44, was obliged to send out a reassuring tweet. “Don’t panic!” she wrote. “Broken sacrum last weekend.
It will be long and painful but nothing calamitous!”
The sacrum is a triangular bone at the base of the spine. Ms Le Pen may need surgery but intends to continue to make television appearances. The recession and the unpopularity of mainstream politicians means the NF is riding high in the polls.