Le Pen, Jean-Marie

Le Pen, Jean-Marie zhŏnˌ-märēˈ lə pĕn, pŏN [key], 1928–, French politician. He graduated from law school, was elected (1956) a parliamentary deputy, and criticized President de Gaulle's Algerian policy. From 1972 to 2011 he led the extreme right-wing National Front (FN). His opposition to immigration and support for national defense aroused strong feelings in France, and he was fined for remarks that minimized aspects of the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of France. His party won a number of seats in the National Assembly during the late 1980s, but in 1988, despite the four million votes his presidential bid received, the FN was almost entirely unsuccessful. Le Pen became a member of the European Parliament (EP) in 1984, but was ultimately stripped (2003) of his seat due to his 1998 conviction for assaulting a rival politician. In the first round of the 2002 presidential election Le Pen edged out Premier Jospin to finish second behind President Chirac, but in the runoff he garnered only 18% of the vote. Le Pen placed fourth in the 2007 presidential election. Marine Le Pen, his daughter, succeeded him as head of the FN in 2011, and worked to reduce the FN's radical image. In 2015 he was expelled from the party after again minimizing aspects of the Holocaust, and founded a new party. His memoir (2018) was a French bestseller.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies