Aged 90, Jean-Marie Le Pen won’t seek reelection at the next European elections. He has set records at the EP by having its parliamentary immunity lifted 6 times.
A year ago, Jean-Marie Le Pen was still claiming he would seek an eighth term as MEP. “Age doesn’t really matter, and retirees and elders (…) need to be represented (at the European Parliament) and not exclusively young people”, the historic founder of the far-right French National Rally (formerly the National Front) argued. Hopefully enough, he has changed his mind, or someone, may be his daughter Marine Le Pen who is now leading the party, helped him realize how bad the idea was.
A professional EU hater
Born in 1928, Jean-Marie Le Pen is a dinosaur in the French political landscape. Hardly anybody remembers that his first election to the European Parliament (EP) dates back to 1984. He has been reelected since then – as a representative of a French South-East constituency, although every body knows that he lives full time in Saint-Cloud, near Paris – without any interruption. That’s a hell of a performance for a professional EU hater.
Yes, Le Pen is a man of records on many aspects. He is currently the oldest MEP and one of the longest-serving ever.
Ranked 745 out of 750 MEPs
In terms of activity, his record is more on the lower end.
During his previous mandates, journalists had already commented the fact that he tended to stay away from the Parliament as soon as he had participated to enough votes to get his indemnities. During his actual mandate, he did not even bother to keep up appearances: according to VoteWatch Europe, he ranks 745 out of 750 MEPs in terms of participation in votes.
Misappropriation of EU funds
That’s not all. Jean-Marie Le Pen also has striking record of judicial troubles. Following a request by the French justice, on 12 March, his parliamentary immunity was once again lifted by his colleagues MEPs. French judges are eager to question him about the suspected misappropriation of EU funds by the National Front. The party is accused of having paid national employees with funds it had requested to remunerate its parliamentary assistants.
In connection with this case, Le Pen has already been condemned by the European General Court in 2016 to pay back more than 320,000 euros and his monthly allowance as an MEP has consequently been cut from 6200 euros to 3100 euros. Since then, he has been loudly complaining about “working” for nothing.
Parliamentary immunity lifted 6 times
Last week was the sixth times his parliamentary immunity was lifted, as calculated by the daily Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace. Another record. The five former procedures (2017, 2016, 1998, 1990 and 1989) were all linked to racial hatred and Holocaust denial charges.
His outrageous declarations used to cause so much disgust in Strasbourg that it even rushed the Parliament to change one of its rule ahead of the 2009 elections. At that time, it was feared that the Holocaust denier could become the oldest MEP in the hemicyle, and hence, would chair the first session until the election of the new President. A new rule was adopted stating that as of this election, the first plenary session is chaired by one of the outgoing Vice-Presidents.
This could possibly be the most tangible legacy left by Le Pen after 35 years as an MEP. Nothing to regret.