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    Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for the French 2017 presidential election, attends the 2-day FN political rally to launch the presidential campaign in Lyon, France February 5, 2017.

    Trials and Tribulations of the Rise of France's Marine Le Pen's Front National

    © REUTERS / Robert Pratta
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    France's Front National party leader Marine Le Pen has now topped the polls in France, paving the way for her to become - potentially - the first female President and for the collapse of the long-time two-party grip on power. And her rise has been an extraordinary roller coaster.

    The fact that Marine Le Pen's party is under investigation for fraud in the European Parliament and that she has been dragged through the courts herself, previously, has done nothing to stem her rise in popularity, despite a very public spat within her own family and the party nearly falling apart.

    In 2015, the party was indicted as a corporation, for the misuse of company property and fraud. Wallerand St. Just, the party treasurer said: "We are innocent of all the charges against us," he said denouncing "the fury of the public prosecutor of Paris."

    In April 2015, her father and party-founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen reiterated his past comments that the Nazi gas chambers were a mere "detail of history" and his daughter — who took over as president of the National Front in 2011 — suspended him from the party. Many said she pounced on his comments to suspend him so that he posed no threat to her bid for political power, having moved the party more mainstream.

    'Vulgar Provocations'

    Marine Le Pen lambasted him in the media. "Jean-Marie Le Pen seems to have descended into a strategy somewhere between scorched earth and political suicide," she said in a statement.

    France's far-right Front National (FN) party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen poses in Saint-Cloud, west of Paris, on January 27, 2016.
    © AFP 2019 / Joel Saget
    France's far-right Front National (FN) party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen poses in Saint-Cloud, west of Paris, on January 27, 2016.

    "His status as honorary president does not give him the right to hijack the National Front with vulgar provocations seemingly designed to damage me but which unfortunately hit the whole movement," she said of his remarks made in an interview with the far-right magazine Rivarol.

    He denounced her and told her to marry so that she could no longer have the family name and said it would be "scandalous" if his daughter won in the 2017 French presidential elections after the way she treated him. 

    Jean-Marie Le Pen, right, and his daughter Marine Le Pen sit at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, eastern France
    © AP Photo / Lionel Cironneau, File
    Jean-Marie Le Pen, right, and his daughter Marine Le Pen sit at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, eastern France

    Le Pen senior challenged the suspension in the courts and won his case and re-instatement to the party. However, in August 2015 a special meeting of the party expelled him.

    Then, at a sideshow during the FN party's summer convention in early September 2015, Le Pen senior announced he was setting up a rival party called the "Blue-White-Red Rally", after the colors of the French Flag.

    People cheer as Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for the French 2017 presidential election, attends the 2-day FN political rally to launch the presidential campaign in Lyon, France February 5, 2017.
    © REUTERS / Robert Pratta
    People cheer as Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for the French 2017 presidential election, attends the 2-day FN political rally to launch the presidential campaign in Lyon, France February 5, 2017.

    In December 2015 she was acquitted after a trial over comments she made in 2010, in which she criticized Muslims who were praying in the streets because the mosques are full.

    "I'm sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War Two, if we're talking about occupation, we could talk about that (street prayers), because that is clearly an occupation of the territory. It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of neighborhoods in which religious law applies, it is an occupation. There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow, and it weighs on people," she was alleged to have told a meeting in Lyon.

    Despite all the family rifts and court battles, that latest Opinionway poll showed Le Pen scoring 25 percent in a first-round vote set for April 23, with independent Emmanuel Macron on 22 percent and conservative Francois Fillon on 20.

    Related:

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    Poll Suggests Marine Le Pen to Win 1st Round of French Presidential Election
    French Jews' Attitude Towards Le Pen Shows Concerns Over Her Agenda Exaggerated
    French Presidential Candidate Le Pen Warns EU Must ‘Change or Die’
    Tags:
    French 2017 election, presidency, right-wing, election, Front National, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine Le Pen, France
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