Front National leader Marine Le Pen has forced Florian Philippot out of the party. Philippot was the architect of the party’s “economic sovereignty” push, and vice president of strategy and communications. With Philippot gone, it is assumed FN will refocus on it’s chief issue, France’s immigration crisis and the threat Islam poses to the French. Stacy Meichtry reports in the WSJ:
Mr. Philippot, a graduate of France’s elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration who is openly gay, was initially an outlier in National Front’s rowdy right-wing politics. But Mr. Philippot’s plan to rebrand National Front as a party of economic nationalism—and bury its xenophobic past—appealed to Ms. Le Pen who had recently succeeded her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, as the group’s leader.
Ms. Le Pen’s elevation of Mr. Philippot broadened her appeal, especially with left-wing voters in France’s hollowed-out industrial areas, allowing her party to notch key victories in local and European Parliament elections. But Mr. Philippot’s rise also led to Ms. Le Pen’s estrangement from her father and his followers.
In January, Ms. Le Pen unveiled a plan to remove France from the euro. The move helped turn the presidential election into a referendum on the euro as Mr. Macron rushed to the currency’s defense, figuratively wrapping himself in the EU’s blue and gold-starred flag.
Ms. Le Pen’s loss left many party members clamoring for Mr. Philippot’s departure. Mr. Philippot responded by founding Les Patriotes, a group of National Front members who support his agenda.
Earlier this month, Mr. Philippot was photographed sitting down to a meal of couscous—a popular Arab dish—prompting National Front supporters to hound him on Twitter, unleashing the hashtag #couscousgate.
The final straw came during a meeting of party leaders this week as Ms. Le Pen demanded Mr. Philippot put an end to his “conflict of interest” as head of Les Patriotes. Mr. Philippot’s refusal, she said, forced her to take away his brief as strategic chief.
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