Defections From the FN
Four recent posts at Le Salon Beige trace the rapid disintegration of the leadership of the Front National. It seems that within the space of a few weeks there have been numerous defections among those who held important posts both within the national party and in certain regional branches, in particular the region of Ile-de-France, which includes Paris and its environs.
While it is bewildering for me to present this material coherently, since I don't know a great deal about these people, it is obvious that something is going on and it does not bode well for the future of the party, nor does it promise any real hope for Marine Le Pen (photo above), at least not at this time.
I want to say that Le Pen's recent appearance at Dieudonné's stage show was the last straw for some of these personalities, but I have no evidence that this is the case. Moreover, the disintegration process started a long time ago.
Here are the basics, as reported by LSB. French readers might want to read the extensive commentary, since the readers provide more information (often subjective) than the posts themselves.
From January 20:
Myriam Baeckeroot, regional councillor from Ile-de-France since 1992, is no longer a member of the FN, not having renewed her membership in November.
Michel Hubault resigned on January 9, to support Carl Lang in the European elections, and has agreed to be the treasurer of Lang's electoral committee.
Note: Before proceeding any further, I should add that the upcoming EU elections are looming as very important. Since the FN is generally regarded as a leper colony by the EU, some may want to make the break now and try their chances in more favorable conditions, as part of a new right-wing, sovereigntist party, free of the stigma associated with Le Pen. Carl Lang, a prominent leader in the FN broke away a while back.
Jean Verdon will be chairman of Lang's electoral committee.
Jean d'Ogny, secretary of the FN in the department of the Cher, was photographed with Carl Lang when Lang began his European campaign, a fact that seems to limit his days in his current post.
From January 23:
In the region of Ile-de-France, (besides Myriam Baeckeroot), Michel Bayvet and Michel de Rostolan have decided to leave the Regional Council of the FN and to form a new party in the Regional Council.
Note: France is divided into departments, with a general council as governing body of each department. There are also groupings of departments known as regions, with a regional council as governing body. Since 1986, these councils contain blocs of representatives from the various political parties, elected for a period of 6 years by universal suffrage. In the regional council of Ile-de-France (the Paris area), the FN bloc has been headed by Marine Le Pen. She is now going to resign this position, to allow someone else with a better chance of winning to take over and to run in the EU elections as the FN candidate from Ile-de-France. Meanwhile, Marine herself will be running in the EU elections as FN candidate from the large voting district of Nord-Ouest (Note: This includes at least 5 departments and/or regions, including Basse-Normandie, Haute-Normandie, Nord-Pas de Calais and Picardie)
(Information from Novopress)
Another source, National-Hebdo, posted this on January 27:
The assemblage, patiently built and maintained by Jean-Marie Le Pen, of diverse elements of the National Right today is bursting apart. Nothing spectacular, not a massive departure, just a slow disintegration of the apparatus. After the the departures on Friday (January 23) (...), today Martine Lehideux, a founding member of the FN and Martial Bild, a member since 1980, who holds several important posts within the FN, are breaking away from the ideological trend initiated by Marine Le Pen. (...) In less than three months the FN has lost one fifth of its regional councillors, three European deputies and nothing indicates for now that this hemorrhage is coming to an end.
Another post at National-Hebdo indicates that Jean-Michel Dubois has been chosen to run as candidate for the FN from Ile-de-France in the EU elections, NOT Alain Soral, the controversial left-wing philosopher and sociologist whom Marine Le Pen had befriended and whose advice she apparently sought out. Soral's presence in the FN has been a major divisive factor, and cost Marine the confidence of numerous FN members. It was his influence over her that many saw as one of the reasons for her father's failure to do better in the 2007 presidential elections.
From LSB January 27:
Despite a meeting with Marine Le Pen,the regional councillors Martial Bild and Martine Lehideux, have decided to form a new group in the Regional Council under the name "Group of Nationals and Independents".
Jean-François Touzé has also joined this new group. (You can review my posts on Touzé by clicking the label below.)
After these defections, nine persons remain in the Front National's group in the regional council of Ile-de-France.
Also from January 27:
Most of the elected officials mentioned were seen side by side with Carl Lang at Sunday's pro-life demonstrations.
Note: There have been two recent pro-life demonstrations - one in Washington, one in Paris. Both rallies attracted a huge number of participants and much positive commentary from the French Catholic blogs. The abortion issue has been one of several ethical questions that separated Jean-Marie Le Pen from many of his traditional Catholic constituents. Le Pen (and Marine) have shown themselves to be more "liberal" (American sense of the word) on issues of abortion and euthanasia than the Catholics had hoped.
In the photo below Carl Lang is third from left, next to the man in the hat and the woman in red.
If you are totally confused, I would imagine many French people are too, as LSB comments show. It is relatively easy to split from a group, but to assemble a consistent, coherent, meaningful platform, and to win elections is much harder.
Note: How voting districts for the EU parliamentary elections are drawn up is not clear to me. It appears that one region or a group of regions or a group of departments and regions can constitute a voting district - what the French call a "circonscription."
Also, regarding the names of the defectors, it isn't entirely clear if they are all OUT of the FN as a party, or on suspension, or just out of the FN group in Ile-de-France. I believe that, despite everything, Carl Lang is still a member of the FN. It may depend on whether or not he pays dues and on whether or not Jean-Marie Le Pen has him removed definitively.
We all await the next chapter in the vicissitudes of the French Right, as it tries to figure out who it is and what it represents.