French far-right party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen in hospital after minor stroke

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French far-right National Front (FN) founder Jean-Marie Le Pen delivers a speech during a May Day ceremony in front of the statue of Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) in Paris, France, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

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PARIS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Jean-Marie Le Pen, the co-founder and former president of French far-right party Front National (National Front), is in hospital following a minor stroke, one of his advisers said on Thursday.

Lorrain de Saint Affrique, confirming a report on BFM TV, told Reuters that Le Pen, 93, went into hospital on Wednesday evening and that he is expected to be discharged within 36 hours.

"Examinations today have shown that there is nothing to worry about, there is nothing threatening," he said.

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Le Pen's daughter, Marine Le Pen, took over the party in 2011 and later changed its name to Rassemblement National (National Rally) as she sought to move the party away from its reputation as racist and xenophobic.

De Saint Affrique said that during a dinner at his home in Paris suburb Rueil-Malmaison on Monday, Le Pen briefly suffered blurred vision. While the problem was temporary, Le Pen was later hospitalised for a check-up.

Le Pen said on Monday that he would back Marine's bid in presidential elections in April since she had the best chance of beating President Emmanuel Macron in the runoff vote.

His support came after a series of defectionsto the campaign team of far-right commentator Eric Zemmour as well as remarks by her niece Marion Marechal that Zemmour was the better candidate have hurt her bid.

Jean-Marie Le Pen had earlier suggested that he too might support Zemmour, who takes a harder stance than Marine Le Pen on immigration and security issues and advocates more liberal economic policies.

Zemmour is running fourth in voting intention polls, after Macron, mainstream conservative challenger Valerie Pecresse and Marine Le Pen.

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Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, writing by Geert De Clercq, editing by Richard Lough and Mark Heinrich

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