13:09 GMT +319 April 2018
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    Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for the French 2017 presidential election, attends a news conference in Paris, France

    This is Why France's National Front Plans to Change its Name

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    This month, France's Eurosceptic National Front (NF) leader Marine Le Pen announced plans to rename the party this spring. National Front French MEP Gilles Lebreton spoke to Sputnik about the difficulties the party hopes to overcome with a new name and the problems that it has to solve in the framework of its overall strategy in Europe.

    Getting more voters is one of the reasons for the so-called "rebranding," Leberton believes.

    “The (current) name is very popular with the party members, but there is one problem, it's associated with the figure of party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and because of that, many voters do not want to vote for us,” said Lebreton. “They associate the party with the name of Jean-Marie Le Pen, and he causes a reaction of rejection in some voters.”

    “A different name will allow us to attract a new category of voters. Renaming will mean that we have finally broken away from Jean-Marie Le Pen, and many people will vote for us.” (Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the party, is Marine Le Pen's father)

    READ MORE: New Name, Bigger Plans: Le Pen Announces Plan to 'Rebrand' National Front Party

    At the same time, at the European level, the party will continue its traditional confrontation with the EU.

    “NF's goal hasn't changed. We are against the EU and we want it to cease to exist. We want to create a different European organization in which the sovereignty of all member states would be respected. Marine Le Pen calls it the Union of European Nations,” Gilles Lebreton stressed.

    Marine Le Pen announced that she will propose a new name for the party in March during an interview with 'Le Grand Rendez-vous', a TV program on the channel Europe 1, in order to transform the National Front into an opposition political party capable of gaining the necessary majority in the next presidential election.

    Marine Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, having founded the National Front in 1972, was expelled from the party in August 2015 after anti-Semitic remarks. He called Nazi gas chambers a mere 'historical detail' of the Second World War and defended Marshal Pétain's collaborationist Vichy France.

    This month, the appeals court in Versailles upheld his expulsion, ruling that he could retain the honorary role of party president for life. This position, though, might be eliminated at the party congress, which will be held in Lille on March 10-11. Despite being banned from participating in it, Mr. Le Pen has threatened to come to the congress with the help of a 'public force'.

    It should also be noted that the recent high-profile National Front resignations include the departure of Vice-President Florian Philippot, for many years considered the right-hand man of Marine Le Pen. He left the party in late August, disagreeing with Marine Le Pen's decision not to put him in charge of the party's strategy and public relations.

    The views expressed in this article by Gilles Lebreton are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.

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    National Front, Marine Le Pen, France
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