‘New’ RN party is still FN wolf in sheep’s clothing

According to projections, France’s Rassemblement National (RN) is due to do very well in May’s European Parliament elections.

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Marine Le Pen’s far-right party – which until last year was called the Front National (FN) – traditionally wins most seats when trying to get elected to a chamber it despises.

The paradox is best summed up by her father, founder of the FN, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

He made a caustic farewell speech earlier this month after 35 years in the parliament that meets in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The 90-year-old Le Pen used his speech as a platform for his poisonous views on immigrants, ethnic minorities, and how he wanted to stop peaceful integration.

Despite his views, he won seven straight European elections, compared to just two years spent in the National Assembly in Paris as a French deputé [MP].

Le Pen senior leaves Brussels with examining judges investigating him for fraud now his parliamentary immunity from prosecution is finally being lifted.

The deceit is that the all-new RN has finally ditched convicted racists and anti-Semites like the old Le Pen, along with their policies, and that his daughter will lead it to a sanitised future.

Marine Le Pen has pledged to combine her estimated 20-plus seats in a new bloc with ideological friends such as Italy’s League Party, run by ally Matteo Salvini, who is the Interior Minister in Rome.

This group wants to help choose the new European Commission after a successful election, and will then do all it can to strengthen EU borders, and to improve the lives of indigenous citizens in their own countries, according to the myth.

If this all sounds very simple, it’s because it is provably ridiculous.

There is no evidence whatsoever that parties such as the RN have reformed to any significant degree.

Like extremist populists based in neighbouring European states including Italy, Austria and Hungary, it remains focused on bigotry and exclusion underpinned by economic illiteracy, not to say criminal intent.

Marine Le Pen has been charged alongside her father, and other RN MEPs, over allegations that they illegally siphoned off millions of euros from Brussels, and used them to bolster their domestic party fortunes back in France.

They deny any wrongdoing, but there is likely to be a trial, just as there will be when Marine Le Pen faces prosecutors who accuse her of breaking the law by distributing images of Islamic State atrocities online.

This is part of a sizeable evidence bundle that shows the RN has by no means shed its horrific past.

On the contrary, it revels in the spreading of collective guilt, doing all it can to associate all Muslims with terrorist groups.

The RN’s new blood is every bit as hateful and reactionary as the old timers, too.

Jordan Bardella, the 23-year-old Le Pen prodigy who heads the RN electoral list for May, certainly blames dark-skinned new arrivals for failing to assimilate into his country, especially around Seine-Saint-Denis, the Paris suburb where he was born.

A few days after a gunman murdered 50 worshippers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Bardella went on national TV to pontificate positively on “Great Replacement” – the theory embraced by the terrorist that white people are slowly becoming outnumbered by Muslim immigrants, who should be treated as an enemy within.

The killer – who faces multiple life sentences – said he was converted to the Nazi-style philosophy in France, and acted on it back in New Zealand.

Bardella is poor on facts and statistics, but already an accomplished distorter who knows all about fear-mongering.

As a successor to Jean-Marie Le Pen, who described his MEP colleagues as “blind, deaf and dumb” and working inside an “illusion” posing as a Parliament, he could not be better qualified.

Nabila Ramdani is an award-winning French-Algerian journalist who specialises in French politics and the Arab world. Her articles feature in the French national press as well as internationally. She is a regular columnist in The Connexion