PARIS (Reuters) - Jean-Marie Le Pen, the expelled founder of France’s National Front (FN), launched a new party on Saturday, adding fuel to a family feud that has dogged his daughter Marine’s campaign to become president.
The announcement of the new party, to be called “Blue-White-Red rally” after the colors of the French flag, overshadowed an annual gathering of Marine Le Pen’s FN taking place in Marseille, three months before regional elections.
“You will not be orphans,” 87-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen, expelled from the FN last month, told supporters in a restaurant in the same city. “We can act in a similar way to the FN, even if we are not part of it.”
Marine Le Pen, who succeeded her father as leader in 2011, dismissed his move.
“Everyone is free outside the National Front to create any group he wants. This poses no problem,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the FN meeting. “He does what he wants, he is a free man.”
The row with her father erupted in April last year, when he defended comments he had made in the past about how the gas chambers of World War Two were a “detail” of history.
Polls suggest she could make it to the second, run-off round of the presidential election in 2017, but that she would then lose.
Reporting by Jean-Francois Rosnoblet and Francois Revilla in Marseille, writing by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Kevin Liffey