National Front To Rebrand After Crushing Defeat In French Election

REUTERS/Charles Platiau

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Marine Le Pen’s National Front party will engage in a rebranding effort after suffering a crushing loss Sunday to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen told supporters that the party must reevaluate itself, and that she will continue to fight for its policies in the upcoming parliamentary elections in June. The populist leader lost the run-off election after receiving approximately 35 percent of the vote.

“The National Front must also renew itself,” said Le Pen in an address to supporters after the results came in. “I will therefore start the process of a deep transformation of our movement … I call upon all patriots to join us.”

Le Pen promised to create a “number one opposition force” to counter globalization in France.

The party will change its name, among other things, according to National Front Vice President Florian Philippot.

“Marine Le Pen said it clearly: the National Front will change,” Philippot told Politico. “It’s going to change into a new political force which, necessarily, will not have the same name.”

Le Pen made several changes to the party leading up to the election. Most notably, she forced her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, out of the party. The elder Le Pen drew criticism after claiming the use of gas chambers in the Holocaust was only a “detail” of history.

Marine Le Pen, who took over the party in 2011, has since worked to remove its anti-semitic appearances. She criticized her father in April, claiming he was “in a total spiral strategy somewhere between scorched earth and political suicide.” Jean-Marie responded, saying: “You’re only betrayed by your own.”

Le Pen’s strategy of “detoxification” appears to have improved the party’s image enough to significantly increase support. Her 35 percent of the vote is double the 17.8 percent her father received the last time the National Front made it to the run-off in 2002.

The National Front’s battle for the parliamentary vote in June will be a tough one. Analysts predicted that Macron would need at least 60 percent of the presidential vote to implement policies with a new parliament.

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