Henry Samuel, Telegraph (London), June 17, 2012
Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, Jean Marie Le Pen’s 22-year old granddaughter has become France’s youngest MP in modern political history, clinching one of two seats for the far-Right National Front — its first in a quarter of a century.
Miss Maréchal-Le Pen, a law undergraduate, came top in her constituency in the southeastern Vaucluse department wtih 49.09 per cent of the vote after a rival Socialist refused to bow out to her mainstream Right rival.
Her grandfather, who founded the anti-immigrant, anti-EU party and turns 84 this week, was by her side last night to toast her victory. His party won 35 seats in 1986 only to lose them all after proportional representation was scrapped. It had only one other since, in 1997, but the result was cancelled shortly afterwards.
“I am happy to the spokeswoman for this French youth that tomorrow will be spearhead new hope in the shape of the National Front,” she said from the Provençal town of Carpentras. “6.4 million French voters have already joined us (in presidential elections) and it’s just the beginning.”
Family celebrations among France’s far-Right dynasty were slightly marred however by the fact that Marine Le Pen, Mr Le Pen’s daughter and FN leader, lost a bitterly close battle in the constituency of Hénin Beaumont in the northern Pas de Calais. Miss Le Pen lost by just 118 votes to a Socialist, and called for a recount.
Despite her personal defeat, the FN leader described her niece’s entrance into parliament as a “huge success” for her party that had “finally smashed a glass ceiling in place for the past 25 years”.
“The new make-up of (French) political life is underway. Tonight the UMP is paying for its ideological contradictions and its political compromises.
Her father said he had mixed feelings. “A part of me is rejoicing and another is in pain,” he said.
The other far-Right MP was flamboyant lawyer Gilbert Collard in the southern Gard department.