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Jean-Marie Le Pen

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Jean-Marie Le Pen (born June 20, 1928) is a French politician. He was born at La Trinité-sur-Mer[?], a small Breton harbour, as the son of a fisherman. Le Pen was orphaned as an adolescent, his father's boat blown up by a mine

A veteran of the French paratroops in Indochina (1953) and Algeria (1957), Le Pen started his political career in Paris in 1956 when he became a deputy for the movement of Pierre Poujade[?]. In 1972, he founded the right-wing party Front National. The electoral results of the Front National have been on the rise since the municipal elections of 1983.

In 1984 and 1999 Le Pen won a seat in the European Parliament. In 1992 and 1998 he was elected to the regional council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. His political career has been most successful in the south of France, where economic development has been slow and racial tensions, especially with the Arab community, have been the most widespread.

Le Pen ran in the French presidential elections in 1974, 1988, 1995 and 2002, on a platform which drew criticism for its right-wing nature and alleged xenophobia; his supporters applauded Le Pen's nationalistic pride and economic position. In the presidential elections of 2002, Le Pen obtained 16.86% 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 Lionel Jospin and the scattering of votes among fifteen other candidates. It was the first time such an extreme right-wing candidate qualified for the second round of the French presidential elections.

Le Pen has been severely criticized both at home and abroad for perceived xenophobia and anti-Semitism. He has made remarks which are widely considered to be anti-Semitic, on 13 September 1987 he referred to the gas chambers as "a point of detail of the second world war". It is also established that he practiced torture in Algeria. This fact was published by the newspapers Le Canard Enchainé[?] and Libération[?] and by Michel Rocard[?] (ex-Prime Minister) on TV (TF-1 1993). Le Pen sued the papers and Michel Rocard. This affair ended in 2000 when the "Cour de cassation" (French supreme jurisdiction) concluded that it was legitimate to remember this fact. War crimes committed during the Algerian War of Independence are amnestied in France so there can be no further judicial issues.

In April 2000 he was suspended from the European Parliament after physically attacking the politician Annette Peulvast-Bergeal[?].

See also : Politics of France

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