A bitter feud has erupted in the family at the center of France's far-right National Front (FN) political party, with its leader, Marine Le Pen, bringing disciplinary charges against her father, party president Jean-Marie Le Pen, who in response claims that she may want him dead.
Le Pen was angered by her father's defense of controversial comments he made in the 1980s, in which he dismissed Nazi gas chambers as a “detail of history.” In the same interview, he also defended Marshal Philippe Petain, the head of France's wartime Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazis.
In a statement posted on the FN's website, Le Pen said that her father “seems to have entered a veritable spiral between a scorched earth strategy and political suicide.
“Given the situation, I informed Jean-Marie Le Pen that I will oppose ... his candidacy in Provence-Alpes French Riviera,” she added. The statement also said that a party executive board will be convened to consider disciplinary measures against her father.
Her 86-year-old father, however, appears unrepentant. "The prestige that I obviously still have within the Front National would provoke a considerable stir, and a loss of influence for [Marine] that she probably doesn't gauge," he said Thursday, the BBC reported.
"Marine Le Pen may want me dead, that's possible, but she must not count on my co-operation," he added.
Marine Le Pen has been trying to broaden the FN's electoral appeal, ahead of an expected bid for the French presidency in 2017. The party is nationalist and anti-immigration, and has long been associated with anti-Semitism, though under Marine Le Pen's leadership, some of the party's more openly racist elements have been curbed.
Last month the FN took 25 percent of votes in the first round of local elections, which some reports suggested shows that her strategy is working.
Jean-Marie Le Pen has been the most prominent public face of the French far-right for decades. He succeeded in reaching a run-off election in the 2002 presidential elections. He was roundly defeated by Jacques Chirac.