Marine Le Pen rallies National Front with new name


France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Friday her National Front party needs a name change because it has become "adult" and ready to govern. The move is meant to shed the toxic image that the National Front suffered under the leadership of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the party. But you know it is for many French people a psychological obstacle.

Although the National Front members gathered in Lille cheered and clapped at the announcement of a new name, it is still unclear how the rank-and-file around the country will vote on it.

Davy Rodriguez, who is also a parliamentary assistant for the party, was filmed apparently calling a bouncer at a bar in Lille a "black piece of shit" during a drunken late-night dispute on the eve of the party conference.

The National Front has struggled to remain visible in the French political landscape since the defeat of Ms. Le Pen by the centrist Emmanuel Macron in last year's presidential election.

"We were originally a protest party", she said. "In Macron's France, to be on the move is to be a nomad".

Her top campaign aide Florian Philippot has quit to start a rival far-right party, while her popular niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, is taking time out from politics.

Although she lost last year's election, Marine Le Pen's efforts to clean up the party's image have paid off to some extent.

Trump, who had campaigned touting similar views on immigration, Islam, trade, the European Union and Russian Federation, came close to endorsing Le Pen as she sought to defeat Macron past year. Wear it as a badge of honour. They will get to vote again on the new name by post.

The presence of the former head of far-right Breitbart News drew a stinging response from Macron's government.

He expressed his unequivocal support for the anti-establishment, ultra-nationalist Le Pen and, in a show of populist euphoria, called on followers to celebrate accusations of racism and xenophobia.

The new moniker, Le Rassemblement National (National Rally), must still be approved by party adherents who in a poll past year expressed mild support for the proposed move, with a slight majority of 52 percent voting in favour of the change.

That compared with 90 percent of respondents wanting a referendum on continued European Union membership and 98 percent wanting to cut immigration to France.

In 2015, 94 percent of party members voted to expel the controversy-stricken founder and rescind his honorary status as president-for-life, but were not able to enforce the decision because of legal challenges.