JEAN-MARIE LE PEN Biography - Polititians


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Name: Jean-Marie Le Pen                                                                           
Born: 20 June 1928 La Trinité-sur-Mer, France                                                   
Jean-Marie Le Pen (born June 20, 1928, La Trinité-sur-Mer, France) is a French                   
far-right nationalist politician, founder and president of the Front National (National           
Front) party.                                                                                     
Le Pen has run for the French presidency five times, including in 2002, when in                   
a surprise upset he came second, polling more votes in the first round than the                   
main left candidate, Lionel Jospin. Le Pen lost in the second round to Jacques                   
Chirac. Le Pen again ran in the 2007 French presidential election and finished                   
fourth. His 2007 campaign, at the age of 78, makes him the oldest candidate for                   
presidential office in France.                                                                   
Le Pen focuses on immigration to France, the European Union, traditional culture,                 
law and order and France's high rate of unemployment. He advocates immigration                   
restrictions, the death penalty, raising incentives for homemakers,                               
compulsory national service, and euroscepticism. He has been charged with                         
Holocaust denial several times, and has successfully sued his accusers.                           
Le Pen was born in a small seaside village in Brittany, the son of a fisherman.                   
He was raised as a Roman Catholic, but then orphaned as an adolescent (pupille                   
de la nation, brought up by the state), when his father's boat was blown up by a                 
mine in 1942. He studied at the Jesuit high school François Xavier in Vannes,                   
then in the lycée of Lorient.                                                                   
Aged 16, he was turned down (because of his age) by Colonel Henri de La                           
Vaissière (then representant of the Communist Youth) when he attempted, in                       
November 1944, to join the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). He then                           
entered the faculty of law in Paris, and started to sell in the street the                       
monarchist Action française 's newspaper, Aspects de la France (Action                           
Française monarchist movement newspaper). He was repeatedly convicted of assault                 
(coups et blessures). He became president of the Association corporative des                     
étudiants en droit, an association of law students whose main occupation was to                 
engage in street brawls against the "Cocos" (communists). He was excluded from                   
this organisation in 1951, after a congress of the UNEF student union and having                 
insulted, while drunk, an abbot.                                                                 
After having received his law diploma, he enlisted in the Army in the Foreign                     
Legion in Indochina, where he arrived after the 1954 Dien Bien Phu Battle (lost                   
by France, and which prompted the President of the Council Pierre Mendès France                 
to put an end to the war at the Geneva Conference). He was then sent to Suez (1956),             
but arrived only after the cease-fire. He was then sent to Algeria (1957) as                     
an intelligence officer. He has been accused of having engaged in torture, but                   
he denied it, although he recognized having known of its use. After his time                     
in the military, he studied political science and law at Paris II. His graduate                   
thesis, submitted in 1971 by Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jean-Loup Vincent, was titled                 
Le courant anarchiste en France depuis 1945 or "The anarchist movement in France                 
since 1945".                                                                                     
His marriage (June 29, 1960 - March 18, 1987) to Pierrette Lalanne resulted in                   
three daughters; their daughters have given him nine granddaughters. Their break-up               
was somewhat dramatic, with his ex-wife posing nude in the French edition of                     
Playboy to ridicule him. Marie-Caroline, another of his daughters, would also                     
break with Le Pen, following her husband to join Bruno Mégret, who split from                   
the FN to found MNR, the rival Mouvement National Républicain (National                         
Republican Movement). The youngest of Le Pen's daughters, Marine Le Pen, is a                     
senior member of the Front National.                                                             
In 1977 Le Pen inherited a fortune from Hubert Lambert, son of the cement                         
industrialist of the same name. Hubert Lambert was a political supporter of Le                   
Pen, as well as being a monarchist, an alcoholic, and in poor health. Lambert's                   
will provide 30 million francs (approximatively 5 million euros) to LePen, as                     
well as his castle in Montretout, Saint-Cloud (the same castle had been owned by                 
Madame de Pompadour until 1748).                                                                 
In the early 1980s, Le Pen's personal security was assured by KO International                   
Company, a subsidiary of VHP Security, a private security firm, and an alleged                   
front organisation for SAC, the Service d'Action Civique (Civic Action Service),                 
a Gaullist organisation. SAC allegedly employed figures with organized crime                     
backgrounds and from the far-right movement.                                                     
On May 31, 1991, Jean-Marie Le Pen married Jeanne-Marie Paschos ("Jany"), of                     
Greek descent. Born in 1933, Paschos was previously married to Belgian                           
businessman Jean Garnier.                                                                         
National advertisement in Marseille, predicting the now unrealised possibility                   
of Jean-Marie Le Pen becoming President in 2007                                                   
Le Pen started his political career as the head of the student union in Toulouse.                 
In 1953, a year after the beginning of the Algerian War, he contacted President                   
Vincent Auriol, who approved Le Pen's proposed volunteer disaster relief project                 
after a flood in the Netherlands. Within two days, there were 40 volunteers from                 
his university, a group that would later help victims of an earthquake in Italy.                 
In Paris in 1956, he was elected to the National Assembly as a member of Pierre                   
Poujade's UDCA populist party. Le Pen, 28 years old, was the youngest member of                   
the Assembly.                                                                                     
In 1957, he became the General Secretary of the Front National des Combattants (National         
Front of Combatants), a veteran's organization, as well as the first French                       
politician to nominate a Muslim candidate, Ahmed Djebbour, an Algerian, who was                   
elected in 1957 as deputy of Paris. The next year, following his break with                       
Poujade, Le Pen was re-elected to the National Assembly as a member of the                       
Centre National des Indépendants et Paysans (CNIP) party, led by Antoine Pinay.                 
Le Pen claimed that he had lost his left eye when he was savagely beaten during                   
the 1958 election campaign. Testimonies suggest however that he was only wounded                 
in the right eye and did not lose it. He lost the sight in his left eye years                     
later, due to an illness (popular belief that he wears a glass eye is untrue).                   
During the 1950s, Le Pen took a close interest in the Algerian war (1954-62) and                 
the French defense budget.                                                                       
Le Pen then directed the 1965 presidential campaign of far-right candidate Jean-Louis             
Tixier-Vignancour, who obtained 5.19% of the votes. He insisted on the                           
rehabilitation of the Collaborationists, declaring that:                                         
"Was General de Gaulle more brave than the Marshall Pétain in the occupied zone?                 
This isn't sure. It was much easier to resist in London than to resist in France."               
During the 1961 Barricades Week in Algiers, Le Pen called for the barricades to                   
be extended to Paris, and was afterward put in custody. The following year,                       
he lost his seat at the Assembly. He created the Serp (Société d’études et de               
relations publiques) firm, a company involved in the music industry, which                       
produced both chorals of the CGT trade-union or songs of the Popular Front and                   
Nazi marches. The firm was condemned in 1968 for "praise of war crime and                         
complicity" after the diffusion of songs from the Third Reich.                                   
In 1972, Le Pen founded the Front National (FN) party, along with former OAS                     
member Jacques Bompard, former Collaborationist Roland Gaucher and others                         
nostalgics of Vichy France, neo-nazi pagans, Catholic fundamentalists, etc.                       
Le Pen presented himself for the first time in the 1974 presidential election,                   
obtaining 0.74%. In 1976, his Parisian flat (he lived at that time in his                         
castle of Montretout in Saint-Cloud) was dynamited. The affair never was                         
elucidated. Le Pen then didn't manage to obtain the 500 signatures from "grand                   
electors" (grands électeurs, mayors, etc.) necessary to present himself to the                   
1981 presidential election, won by the candidate of the Socialist Party (PS),                     
François Mitterrand.                                                                             
Criticizing immigration and taking advantage of the economic crisis striking                     
France, and the world, since the 1973 oil crisis, Le Pen's party managed to                       
increase its votes in the 1980s, starting in the municipal elections of 1983.                     
His popularity has been greatest in the south of France. The FN obtained 10                       
percent at the 1984 European elections. 34 FN deputies entered the Assembly                       
after the 1986 elections, which were won by the right wing, bringing Jacques                     
Chirac to Matignon in the first cohabitation (that is, of the combination of a                   
right-wing Prime minister, Chirac, with a socialist President, Mitterrand).                       
In 1984 and 1999, Le Pen won a seat in the European Parliament. In 1988 he lost                   
a reelection bid for the Parliament of France in the 8th District of Bouches-du-Rhône.           
He was defeated in the second round by Socialist Marius Masse. In 1992 and                       
1998 he was elected to the regional council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.                       
In 1997, the European Parliament stripped Le Pen of his parliamentary immunity                   
so that he could be tried by a German court for comments he made at a December                   
1996 press conference before the German Republikaner party. Le Pen stated there                   
that: "If you take a 1,000-page book on World War II, the concentration camps                     
take up only two pages and the gas chambers 10 to 15 lines. This is what one                     
calls a detail." ; Le Pen had made a similar statement in France in 1987, which                   
also caused him to be condemned in virtue of the Gayssot Act on negationism. In                   
June 1999, a Munich court found this statement to be "minimizing the Holocaust,                   
which caused the deaths of six million Jews," and convicted and fined Le Pen for                 
his remarks. He was deprived of his seat by the European Court of Justice                         
on April 10, 2003 for physically assaulting another candidate.                                   
Le Pen ran in the French presidential elections in 1974, 1988, 1995, 2002 and                     
2007. He did not run for office in 1981, having failed to gather the necessary                   
500 signatures of elected officials. In the presidential elections of 2002, Le                   
Pen obtained 16.86 percent of the votes in the first round of voting. This was                   
enough to qualify him for the second round, as a result of the poor showing by                   
the Socialist candidate and incumbent prime-minister Lionel Jospin and the                       
scattering of votes among 15 other candidates. This was a major political event,                 
both nationally and internationally, as it was the first time someone with such                   
extremist views had qualified for the second round of the French presidential                     
elections. There was a widespread stirring of national public opinion, and more                   
than one million people in France took part in street rallies, slogans such as "vote             
for the crook, not the fascist" were heard in an expression of fierce opposition                 
to Le Pen's ideas.                                                                               
Le Pen was then soundly defeated in the second round, when incumbent president                   
Jacques Chirac obtained 82 percent of the votes, thus securing the biggest                       
majority in the history of the Fifth Republic.                                                   
In the 2004 regional elections, Le Pen intended to run for office in the                         
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region but was prevented from doing so because he did                 
not meet the conditions for being a voter in that region: he neither lived there,                 
nor was registered as a taxpayer there. Le Pen complained of a government plot                   
to prevent him from running. Some argue that this event was merely a scheme of                   
Le Pen's to avoid defeat in the election.                                                         
In recent years, Le Pen has tried to soften his image, with mixed success. He                     
has maneuvered his daughter Marine into a prominent position, a move that                         
angered many inside the National Front, who worry about the emergence of a                       
possible Le Pen family dynasty.