A family-sized quarrel has finally exploded in the Front National, threatening a permanent rift between Marine and Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Ms Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right party since 2011, accused her father and predecessor of committing “political suicide” and “vulgar provocation” over his interview with an ultra-right, anti-Semitic magazine.
Ms Le Pen, 46, said that “with great regret” she would push for her father to be sacked as the lead FN candidate in regional elections in Provence in December – just as she has purged other members who have failed to toe her “modernising” anti-racist party line.
Mr Le Pen, 87, has clashed with his youngest daughter in public with increasing frequency in recent months, but never have the pair set about each other with such ferocity as this.
Other senior FN officials close to Ms Le Pen even suggested that moves might be made to kick the founder and honorary president-for-life out of the party. Ms Le Pen said that she would call an emergency meeting of the party’s political bureau on Thursday or Friday.
In an interview with the magazine Rivarol, Mr Le Pen accused his daughter of “betrayal” because she had last week disowned his renewed statement that the Nazi death chambers were merely a “detail” of the history of the Second World War.
In pictures: Extremists in the EU
In pictures: Extremists in the EU
1/6 France: Marine le Pen
Marine Le Pen, 45, took over the Front National (FN), the party that her father founded, in 2011. He himself described her as “a big, healthy, blonde girl, an ideal physical specimen." She claims to have cleaned up the FN and succeeded in pushing her anti-European, anti-euro and anti-immigration agenda into the EU political mainstream
2/6 Germany: Udo Voigt
He will be the first German neo-Nazi to enter the European Parliament. The former army officer, born in 1952, was jailed in 1995 for inciting racial hatred. Formerly the leader of the far right National Democratic Party (NPD), Voigt was convicted in 2009 after he was caught handing out flyers at the World Cup which argued that a black player was not entitled to play for Germany, whose national team – the literature argued – should be made up only of white players.
3/6 Denmark: Morten Messerschmidt
Leader of the Danish People’s Party, which won 27 per cent of the vote. His party has rammed 20 laws relating to immigrants and asylum-seekers through the Danish parliament, giving it the most anti-foreigner legislation in Europe. His party calls Islam “a fascist ideology” and rails against “East European criminal gangs”. One party strategist said “blood ties” to Denmark should be required for citizenship, though the statement was quickly retracted.
4/6 Hungary: Krisztina Morvai
A senior member of Jobbik, the anti-Semitic and anti-Roma party on Hungary’s far right wing. In 2009, she attracted international publicity after declaring: “So-called proud Hungarian Jews should go back to playing with their little circumcised dicks.” In 2009, she cancelled an interview with a British newspaper, declaring in tones of outrage: “I am a decent politician and the mother of three children, yet you in the west keep portraying me as a Nazi and a Fascist.”
5/6 Italy: Mario Borghezio
MEP for Italy’s notoriously racist Northern League, he has relentlessly attacked the nation’s first black cabinet minister, Cecile Kyenge, minister for integration, claiming she would import ‘tribal traditions’ into the Italian government. Other elected members in the party called her “an orang-utan” and suggested that someone should rape her, so she would understand how the victims of Somali rapists felt. He attracted attention by lobbying for the creation of an EU archive of UFO sightings.
6/6 Greece: Eleftherios Synadinos
Fabulously mustachioed retired lieutenant-general in the Greek army, he was one of Golden Dawn’s top candidates in the European elections, at which the overtly neo-Nazi party obtained more than 9 per cent of the vote. With its black-shirted assault squads, the Hitler photos and the party’s swastika-inspired logo, it has been accused of being a criminal organisation. Its website declares: “We aren’t the quiet birds of peace time, we are birds of the storm and the hurricane.”
The far-right patriarch went on to say that he had “personally never regarded as a traitor” Field Marshal Philippe Pétain, leader of the collaborationist Vichy regime of 1940-44.
He described the Spanish-born Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, who moved to France as a teenager, as “this immigrant” and said France and other countries should join with Russia in saving “the white race and the Europe of the northern forests”.
Giving an interview to Rivarol was a deliberate act of provocation. The unabashedly ultra-right-wing and anti-Semitic magazine accuses Ms Le Pen of betraying true far-right values and surrounding herself with “Jews and gays”.
Since she became party president, Ms Le Pen has tried to make the FN acceptable to mainstream voters by removing outward signs of racism and neo-Nazism. She has also moved the party to the left on economic issues – leading her father to say in the interview that her right-hand man, Florian Philippot, was under the “nefarious” influence of Marxism.
Ms Le Pen responded to the interview with her most strongly worded attack on her father yet. “Jean-Marie Le Pen seems to be in a downward spiral somewhere between a scorched-earth policy and political suicide,” she said. “His status as honorary president does not permit him to take the Front National hostage with vulgar provocations whose objective seems to be to harm me.”
FN vice-president Louis Aliot – who is in a relationship with Ms Le Pen – said the differences with Mr Le Pen were now “irreconcilable”.
Mr Philippot tweeted: “The rupture with Jean-Marie Le Pen is now total and definitive. At Marine Le Pen’s bidding, decisions will be taken rapidly.”