Le Pen, Jean-Marie

Le Pen, Jean-Marie

biographical name

(born June 20, 1928, La Trinité, France) French nationalist politician. He was elected in 1956 to the National Assembly as its youngest member. Le Pen helped to found the National Front in 1972, becoming the party's leader later that year. The party emphasized the threat to France posed by immigration, particularly of Arabs from France's former North African colonies. The party also opposed European integration, favoured the reintroduction of capital punishment, and sought prohibitions on the building of additional mosques in France. Le Pen ran several times for the presidency; though he captured less than 1% of the vote in 1974, in 1988 and 1995 he won some 15%. In the presidential election of 2002 Le Pen finished second in the first round of voting, winning 18%, though he was easily defeated in the second round by Jacques Chirac. In the 2007 election he failed to reach the second round. Le Pen was widely regarded as the leader of French neofascism, and his National Front party constituted the main right-wing opposition to the country's mainstream conservative parties from the 1970s through the early 21st century.

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