PARIS France’s National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday the far-right party would start debating its trademark anti-euro stance after next month’s parliamentary elections, fuelling disagreement among her closest aides and allies.
In a rare acknowledgment that its plans to ditch the euro may be a problem for the FN’s prospects, with a majority of French voters in favor of keeping the currency, Le Pen said on Thursday the party would have to discuss its stance.
On Friday, launching her bid to be elected to parliament representing the northern France constituency of Henin-Beaumont, where she narrowly lost in the 2012 legislative elections, Le Pen said the debate would be opened up after the two-round ballot on June 11 and 18.
“The euro is a debate we’ll have at our congress,” she told reporters, referring to a major FN meeting scheduled for end-2017/early 2018.
“This whole work of analyzing our presidential campaign and discussing our political stances is one for after the parliamentary elections,” she said.
Her closest aides and allies immediately disagreed openly among each other about what that debate should achieve.
“We can evolve on that issue, we need to listen to the message of the French people,” FN secretary general Nicolas Bay told franceinfo radio.
Yet Le Pen’s deputy Florian Philippot, a fervent opponent of the euro, disagreed, re-affirming that he would leave the FN if it ditched its anti-euro policy.
Gilbert Collard, one of only two FN deputies in the lower house of parliament, responded by mocking Philippot in an interview with LCP television, saying the party would easily get over his exit.
“He’s not going to impose a dictatorial point of view,” Collard added.
Leaving the euro and the European Union were at the heart of Le Pen’s manifestos for her failed presidential bids this year and in 2012.
Other measures such as giving preference to French nationals and businesses, taxing imports and getting the central bank to buy government bonds are impossible within the EU framework.
(Reporting by Ingrid Melander, Caroline Pailliez, Cyril Camu; Editing by Toby Davis)