A French appeals court has upheld the far-right National Front's (FN) decision to expel party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen over anti-Semitic remarks on Friday, but the party’s bid to cut all links with the notorious politician suffered a setback.
The appeals court in Versailles ruled that while the FN had been within its rights to boot 89-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen out of the party over controversial remarks about the Holocaust, he could retain the honorary role of party president for life.
However, there could be a further sting for the man who for decades embodied France's anti-immigrant far-right.The party may eliminate the president-for-life position at a congress next month, breaking the father's last ties with the party he founded in 1972.
The congress is also expected to vote on a new name for the FN in a final break with the party's past. Jean-Marie Le Pen said in a Tweet last month that a name change would amount to "veritable treason" towards decades of party followers.
Jean-Marie Le Pen: Unacceptable face of FN?
The elder Le Pen handed the reins of the party to his daughter Marine Le Pen -- runner-up to Emmanuel Macron in last year's presidential election -- in 2011. But the controversial father and ambitious daughter are now locked in a vicious long-running power struggle over the party's identity.
In 2015, the Le Pens fell out publicly after Jean-Marie Le Pen repeated his view that the Nazi gas chambers were a mere "detail" of history and defended France's collaborationist wartime Vichy regime.
The remarks embarrassed 49-year-old Marine Le Pen, who expanded the party's support by purging it of the overt anti-Semitism and racism that were the hallmarks of her father.
Jean-Marie Le Pen was duly kicked out of the party, but he refused to go quietly, hauling the FN repeatedly before the courts.
The family feud is an unwelcome distraction for Marine Le Pen, who is looking to rebound from her resounding defeat to Macron.
Le Pen floundered badly in the final days of campaigning and ended up trailing Macron on 33.9 percent.
Neither Le Pen was present for Friday's ruling.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)