Mon, Jan 17, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Right-wing Le Pen bids adieu while blasting immigration


France’s right-wing firebrand Jean-Marie Le Pen bid adieu on Saturday to the National Front party he founded nearly 40 years ago with an impassioned defense of his polemic anti-immigration, anti-Islamic platform.

In his final speech as party president, the 82-year-old nationalist was unapologetic, insisting that “unceasing immigration” poses a threat to the French way of life.

Le Pen harped on what he sees as the transformation of “Christian and secular France in an unbelieving France on the path of Islamization.”

He appealed to his audience of about 1,800 supporters, saying it was up to them to ensure the National Front’s future success — under a new leader.

“I entrust you with the destiny of our movement, its lasting, its unity, its pugnacity,” Le Pen told the audience of the party congress in the central city of Tours. “It’s still time ... to join us, to sign up for the decisive battle which will open a new era for France.”

Le Pen’s successor at the head of the party was to be announced yesterday, but French media reports have said his daughter, Marine La Pen, handily won a vote that pitted her against the party’s longtime No. 2, Bruno Gollnisch. A report in Le Figaro said she’d garnered 67 percent of party members’ vote.

A 42-year-old mother of three, Marine Le Pen is widely seen as the kinder, gentler face of a party known for its extreme stances.

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