March 18, 2018

'Let them call you racists,' Bannon tells far-right French party

11 March 2018, 12:55 | Rufus Hill

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon speaks during a conference in Zurich Switzerland

Bannon to meet Marine Le Pen as Europe’s right wing welcomes his tour

Steve Bannon, a right-wing firebrand and former member of President Donald Trump's inner circle, voiced support for France's far-right politics and its embattled leader at a National Front (FN) party conference in Lille on Saturday.

"Let them call you racists", Bannon said to the French National Front Party.

Le Pen previous year made it to the run-off in the French presidential election which she then lost to Emmanuel Macron, whose policies she said were "putting down the middle and lower classes". A new leadership structure and new bylaws are also being unveiled at the two-day congress.

Bannon has already spoken in Zurich, Switzerland at an event organized by a conservative publication, and on Saturday headlined the annual conference for France's National Front.

According to Le Pen, the party "must acquire the culture of alliances, acquire the culture of a government party", and "changing the name is one of the ways to make it known". That figure presents a striking contrast with the 34 percent of the popular vote that Le Pen won in the presidential election, and her party can not be labeled the opposition.

Le Pen is seeking to make over her struggling party after her failed presidential bid previous year.

"Voters and even party members are questioning her ability, or not, to continue the feeling that the adventure continues and the party can still go forward", Cautrès told 20 Minutes news programme. Le Pen's performance in a pre-election debate with Macron was widely seen as a decisive factor in her defeat, along with the party's focus on abandoning the euro currency instead of core themes such as cracking down on what she calls "massive and surging immigration".

He called the Italy vote "an earthquake" that has boosted far-right movements across Europe. The populist 5-Star Movement and the anti-immigration League both outdid traditional parties. "She's one of the most impressive people in the entire world", Bannon told reporters without mentioning his host Marine Le Pen.

An election next year for members of the European Union's lawmaking arm will be the National Front's first chance to test its rebranding strategy. It won more seats in the European Parliament than any other French party in 2014.

She will announce a proposed new name for the party on Sunday.

However, Len Pen's credibility is among the potential obstacles to a possible far-right comeback.

Although several of Marine Le Pen's aides were also accused of Holocaust denial during the recent election campaign, she claims to be estranged from her father. "He has understood like Trump, Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen the wish of the people to control their own destiny", he tweeted.

After threatening to crash the congress, with armed guards if necessary, the elder Le Pen said he would skip it.

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