The crisis of the National Front is not only invoked by the expulsion of the aged Jean-Marie Le Pen, but also by the underground conflict between rightists-patriots of liberal Catholic color and FN rightists, indifferent to the Christian morals. French voters are traumatized by immigration and continue to vote for the National Front despite its internal divisions.
After the revisionist statement by Jean Marie Le Pen on the genocide of Jews during World War II, his daughter Marine Le Pen, who is the president of the National Front (FN), decided to expel his father from the party. Two previous attempts have been failed in the courts because of non-compliance procedures and violation of the party statute. A new procedure was initiated on August 20: the Executive Bureau of 8 people adopted the expulsion of Jean Marie Le Pen from the party he founded forty years ago. But two members were absent, Marine Le Pen and her advisor Florian Philippot. Marine did not want to give the show a "political parricide." Two bureau members voted against, so the expulsion from the party was passed by a majority of four members. Jean-Marie Le Pen will again go to court to quash the proceedings.
A survey by the French Institute of Public Opinion IFOP, conducted at the request of Le Figaro newspaper, shows that 53% of FN supporters approve the decision to expel Jean-Marie Le Pen and 22% reject it. Nine regional deputies of the Provence Côte d'Azur (regional councilors elected by universal suffrage) said they would quit the party. Reasons: the illegal proceedings against Jean-Marie Le Pen and the socialist direction of the party's economic policy. Florian Philippot is indeed criticized because of his native far left roots and ideas, and also for his private life that shocks the conservative party members. He is gay and takes part in relative networks. All the Catholics who were at the party leadership were gradually eliminated except Bruno Gollnisch. This purging of Catholics, led by Marine Le Pen with no consideration for religion's values, has also weakened the party. MEP Bruno Gollnisch argued that the quarrel between father and daughter, even if father was wrong, weakened the party.
Jean-Marie Le Pen has no political future, but he may hinder his daughter. According to polls, she can gain 30% of the national vote, an insufficient number to win the presidential election in 2017. But in any case it worries right and traditional left.
Socialists emphasize that Marine has already failed twice in court, how could she lead France since she can't properly manage her party, simple association? Add to this that Marine Le Pen is a lawyer, and she fails in court! Le Monde newspaper approves the intention to expel Jean-Marie Le Pen because of his excessive language, but does not believe that the party leadership has changed his ideas: according to the newspaper, one of the closest advisers of Marine, Frédéric Chatillon, has, rightly or wrongly, a reputation of a "neo-Nazi".
In short term the quarrel between father and daughter is not good for the National Front where many members are devoted to Le Pen family and now find bad example in family relations. The saga of a daughter who lashes out against her father even if he is wrong is not well-favoured at all. Moreover, competition is emerging between the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and her niece, Marion Maréchal Le Pen. Marine is president of the party and MEP, but she failed to become deputy of the French National Assembly in 2012. Marion Maréchal Le Pen is an MP from Vaucluse since 2012, and therefore successful where her aunt Marine failed. Marion has many supporters because she embodies a somewhat different line from her aunt. She is also patriotic and is against the migrants’ invasion, the main topic of the party business. But unlike Marine Le Pen she is a practicing Catholic and thought to be hostile to gay marriage. In economics Marion is less statist than her aunt. She supports a traditionalist patriotism while Marine embodies a rightist patriotism, indifferent to religion and hostile to big business, some kind of national socialism.
The crisis of the National Front is not only invoked by the expulsion of the aged Jean-Marie Le Pen, but also by the underground conflict between rightists-patriots of liberal Catholic color and FN rightists, indifferent to the Christian morals, supporters of an authoritarian state, especially in economy.
This crisis is real but it may be temporary. Indeed, supporters of the National Front will vote for this party because it is against immigration (and insecurity that goes with its increase). The FN is what American political scientists call a "one issue party", a party around single topic. However, the situation created by illegal immigration continues to worsen. According to the International Labour Office, there could be at least 400,000 illegal immigrants in France. The number of foreigners is around 3.5 million but the total number of immigrants, foreigners or naturalized persons is 6.6 million people (source: UN) for a country of 66 million inhabitants.
The problem is not only quantitative but qualitative. Immigrants of European origin (the Portuguese are the most numerous) integrate easily. We cannot say it about those who come from the Muslim world (especially North Africa) or black Africa. The qualification of immigrants is often inadequate and their unemployment rate is much higher (17% against 9% of French according to the French Observatory of inequalities). Many analysts consider immigrants are a burden to the French economy.
French voters are traumatized by immigration and continue to vote for the National Front despite its internal divisions. But some may choose to abstain, either for fidelity to moral values of Catholic family, either for fear of a socialist economic program, even more dangerous than the Hollande government.
One can foresee that the FN will score well in the upcoming elections, regional in December 2015 and presidential in 2017. The reason is primarily the immigration problem. But the party still does not have the image of a party of government: it gives the sense of amateurism, lack of qualified professionals and internal dissent.
In foreign policy (this is secondary issue for many French voters), the National Front defends national independence, but it has competitors on this point as the Republicans (Sarkozy's party) led by Thierry Mariani, and leftists (Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Jean-Luc Mélenchon). The unconditional pro-American Atlanticist tendency is represented by rightist Alain Juppé (Republican) and the left Socialist party in power.
All French political parties are heterogeneous and the National Front is no exception.