Bannon boosts France's Marine Le Pen, seeks European network

Bannon boosts France's Marine Le Pen, seeks European network

"I won't go to Lille because I don't want to become ... an accomplice to the assassination of the National Front that will be underway there", he told RTL radio.

"You're part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy", Bannon told the gathering, denouncing central banks, central governments and "crony capitalists". The populist 5-Star Movement and the anti-immigration League both outdid traditional parties.

"Today's politics can not be summed up by the left-right divide".

"Welcome to Steve Bannon who will address the FN tomorrow at our congress and will meet ML [Marine Le Pen]".

Bannon was in France on Saturday, bringing his closed-borders, anti-trade, anti-foreigner message to members of the country's struggling far-right National Front party.

Despite being ousted from his White House post previous year and feuding with Trump in recent months, Bannon praised the president's "economic nationalism" that he said "does not care about your race, your religion, your ethnicity". Steve Bannon has given a big boost to French far right leader Marine Le Pen, telling a cheering crowd at a congress of her National Front party that "history is on our side".

Bruno Cautrès, of the centre for political research at Sciences Po, said the party was undergoing a "crisis of Marine Le Pen's leadership".

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Asked by reporters how she felt about Bannon's comments, Marine Le Pen turned to the American and said that journalists were trying to stir up competition between the two women.

Marechal-Le Pen, the darling of the FN old guard, withdrew from politics previous year but made a high-profile appearance last month at a conservative jamboree in the USA, fuelling speculation about a comeback. The new name, to be announced tomorrow, is meant to distance the party from the toxic aura that it earned under her father, who handed her the leadership in 2011.

At the conference in Lille, in the FN's northern heartlands, Le Pen will urge the party to move away from the mindset of being a permanent opposition, ground it has occupied since it was founded, to broadening its appeal with a view to governing.

Jean-Marie Le Pen said that in losing heavily to Macron his daughter had "not been equal to the challenge" - a sentiment echoed by many FN members.

The weekend congress is expected to erase one persistent problem for Le Pen - her unpredictable, bombastic father - by eliminating his title of honorary president-for-life from party statutes. The National Front today has changed in nature.

The outcome of Italy's election last weekend has energized France's far right. It won more seats in the European Parliament than any other French party in 2014.

However, Le Pen's credibility is among the potential obstacles to a possible far-right comeback: An annual poll published this week by the Kantar-Sofres-One Point firm showed Le Pen scoring lower on numerous questions.

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