Show Must Go On: Steve Bannon Set to Address French National Front

Frederick Owens
March 11, 2018

Steve Bannon, former Donald Trump strategist and architect of the U.S. president's nationalist, anti-immigrant campaign platform, will attend a Sunday congress of France's far-right National Front party.

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".

"You fight for your country and they call you racist".

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, urged a crowd of far-right supporters in France to wear the "racist" label "as a badge of honor".

That meeting came after Bannon met flew to Italy ahead of last Sunday's national election, lending his support to anti-establishment and populist parties.

At a news conference following his speech, Bannon gave his explanation for the recent high-profile staff departures from the White House.

Bannon added that the pivot was partly in order to prepare for the upcoming midterm elections. He was ousted from the White House past year amid tensions and stepped down as chairman of Breitbart News Network in January after a public break with Trump.

Bannon's visit to France is the third stop on his European tour.

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Marine Le Pen wants to revive her own fortunes by changing the name of the National Front, the party co-founded by her father in 1972.

In French media, Jean-Marie Le Pen - noting that Bannon was widely perceived as the "most radical" of Trump's advisers - cast doubt on the value of his daughter's American guest.

Since taking over the National Front's presidency in 2011, Le Pen has worked to erase the footprint of her father - who has convictions for racism and anti-Semitism - to broaden the party's appeal.

Ms Le Pen, who came second in the presidential race past year but was later elected to the French parliament, said recently that the Front National, which was founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1971, had grown up and it was time to change the branding and the name of the party. The National Front today has changed in nature. Let them call you nativist. The younger Le Pen has said the proposed name change is needed to show that the party had become "adult", The Guardian reported.

"They don't understand that we defend the same ideas, in the education field for her and in politics for me", she said.

Many believe that the conference, where Bannon is expected to deliver his speech, will bring FN's leader and former presidential candidate Marine Le Pen a rebranding of the party and even the renaming of it.

The party conference in Lille will also feature a vote as to whether the elder Le Pen can keep his title as the party's honorary president.

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