NEW YORK (AP) — French far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Tuesday that being named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people shows that her party’s brand of political change is getting attention on both sides of the Atlantic.
“People are taking note of the political upheavals that are happening, a great political force that I represent tonight — and that tomorrow can perhaps change the face of decisions that are made not just in France, but perhaps in Europe,” Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigration National Front, said in an interview before a dinner celebrating the honorees. They range from President Barack Obama to Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to reality TV behemoth Kim Kardashian.
The recognition comes at an eventful time for Le Pen, 46. She publicly broke earlier this month with the party’s longtime former leader — her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen — over anti-Semitic remarks he had recently reiterated after broaching them decades ago.
The elder Le Pen helped found the National Front in 1972 and made it to the runoff of France’s 2002 presidential election. Since taking over in 2011, his daughter has pushed to rid the party of its anti-Semitic and racist past and recast it as a voter-friendly option for people frustrated with France’s direction and traditional parties. As many as 90 National Front members hold some of France’s more than 4,100 local council seats, and Marine Le Pen is a prospective 2017 presidential candidate.
Both France’s governing Socialists and conservative party, known as the UMP, have sounded alarm calls about what France’s future would be under the National Front, which opposes immigration, the European Union and what it perceives as the “Islamization” of France.
After Jean-Marie Le Pen’s recent comments — which included calling Nazi gas chambers a “detail in history” — Marine Le Pen announced she would oppose the 86-year-old’s candidacy in December regional elections. He then agreed not to run but still will face a party disciplinary board, which his daughter ordered.
She declined Tuesday to discuss what she thought would be an appropriate punishment but said the party “can no longer be the hostage of views that are personal views and that certainly contradict the political action of the National Front.”
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