Le Pen, Jean-Marie

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Le Pen, Jean-Marie

Jean-Marie Le Pen (zhŏn´-märē´ lə pĕn, pŏN), 1928–, French politician. He graduated from law school, was elected (1956) a parliamentary deputy, and criticized President de Gaulle's Algerian policy. From 1972 to 2011 he led the extreme right-wing National Front (FN). His views against immigration and his support for national defense aroused strong feelings in France, and he was fined for remarks that minimized aspects of the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of France. His party won a number of seats in the National Assembly during the late 1980s, but in 1988, despite the four million votes his presidential bid received, the FN was almost entirely unsuccessful. Le Pen became a member of the European Parliament (EP) in 1984, but was ultimately stripped (2003) of his seat due to his 1998 conviction for assaulting a rival politician. In the first round of the 2002 presidential election Le Pen edged out Premier Jospin to finish second behind President Chirac, but in the subsequent runoff Le Pen garnered only 18% of the vote. Le Pen placed fourth in the 2007 presidential election. In 2015 he was suspended from the party after again minimizing aspects of the Holocaust.

His daughter Marine Le Pen (Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen), 1968–, succeeded him (2011) as head of the FN. A lawyer, she was in private practice (1992–98) before becoming head of FN legal affairs (1998–2003) and FN deputy chairwoman (2003–11). Though she ran her father's 2007 presidential campaign, she has since worked to reduce the party's radical image and focus on economic issues while continuing to support an anti-immigration platform, and has clashed with her father over statements he has made. She has served as a councilor for Nord-Pas-de-Calais (1998–2004, 2010–) and Île-de-France (2004–9), and in the EP (2004–). In 2012 she ran unsuccessfully for French presidency, but in 2014 she led the FN to a win in the French EP elections.

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