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February 13, 2012 1:57 pm

France’s Right-Wing Party Still Racist, Critics Say

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Marine Le Pen, president of the National Front. Photo: Front National.

The controversial leader of France’s extreme-right National Front party Jean-Marie Le Pen, 83—widely known for extreme anti-immigration views and Holocaust denial—stepped down last year, and his daughter Marine Le Pen, 43, now runs the party. The divorced mother of three is seemingly trying to raise the party out of its anti-Semitic and xenophobic past, but as the party’s popularity rises, critics still claim it is fundamentally racist.

French polls show that several million people might vote for Marine Le Pen in in this April’s elections. Le Pen has made every effort to revitalize her party by excluding members who display xenophobia, racism or anti-Semitism, according to reports.

However, some experts think the party hasn’t truly moved far enough away from the days of its former leader and that its rise could still be dangerous. Far-right expert Sylvain Crepon of the University of Paris believes the changes are merely a strategy designed to get the party to the top, saying: “She has understood that the National Front will never reach power alone. The only way to get access is via alliances.”

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