PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the party congress of France’s National Front: (all times local):
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has given a big boost to French far right leader Marine Le Pen, telling a cheering crowd at a congress of her National Front party that “history is on our side.”
Speaking at the party congress in the northern French city of Lille on Saturday, Bannon said he was traveling the world and told party members: “You’re part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy.”
He also praised Le Pen’s vision of a political spectrum that is no longer left- right but nationalists versus globalists.
Le Pen defended inviting Bannon to the event. She said it was important to hear the ideas of a man who was “the architect of Donald Trump’s victory” and has written about globalization and giving to regular people “power, which in his mind and mine, too, has been practically illegally captured by the elite.”
Le Pen is seeking to make over her struggling party after her failed presidential bid last year.
Bannon’s appearance was his latest stop on a European tour centered on last week’s Italian election.
Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former strategist and architect of the U.S. president’s nationalist campaign platform, is expected to attend a meeting of France’s far-right National Front party.
National Front Vice President Louis Aliot tweeted Saturday that Bannon will come to the party’s congress in Lille on Saturday and meet Le Pen.
The anti-immigration stance of Trump’s campaign and presidency were attributed to Bannon before he left the White House and echo ideas that Le Pen has long championed.
Le Pen is promoting a new name, a new leadership structure and new bylaws for the National Front at the two-day congress with the hope her party can become relevant again in France.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is set to propose a name change for the National Front, part of a makeover designed to make the anti-immigration party relevant again after she was defeated by Emmanuel Macron in the presidential race.
Le Pen is expected to make the proposal at a party congress in Lille on Sunday and members will vote on it by mail ballot. A new leadership structure and new bylaws are also being unveiled at the two-day congress.
The congress would mark a significant break with Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front in 1972 and has called a name change a “betrayal.”
A younger leadership circle will likely emerge, but Marine Le Pen, the only candidate for president, will remain.