FRANCE

French far-right claims legacy of socialist icon Jaurès

A candidate for the French far-right National Front party running in the June European parliamentary elections has caused outrage in France by using a portrait of socialist icon Jean Jaurès in his campaign poster. Read more...

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A candidate for the French far-right National Front party running in the June European parliamentary elections has caused outrage in France by using a portrait of socialist icon Jean Jaurès in his campaign poster.

The party's general secretary, Louis Aliot, put the posters up in the southwest Carmaux region - an area known for its loyalty to Jaurès, a former socialist leader who was famously shot on the eve of the First World War.

"For those left with nothing, their country is their only strength". Jaurès would have voted National Front.

An explanation posted on the candidate's website reasoned that "the only political party in France which defends the values of social justice and humanism is the National Front".

During the country's presidential campaign in 2007, the then candidate Nicolas Sarkozy also laid claim to the legacy of Jaurès in a dispute with a leftwing "heir of May '68".

Jean Jaurès (1859 - 1914) was the leader of the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO). A pacifist and socialist, but not a Marxist, some of his most notable achievements include campaigning for the release of the falsely accused Captain Alfred Dreyfus and denouncing anti-Semitism, of which Dreyfus was a victim. 

The poster affair has come at a bad time for the National Front. Party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen is once again in the spotlight for denying the Holocaust. Just months before the European elections, the 80-year-old nationalist leader repeated that gas chambers were "a mere detail in the history of the Second World War".

Campaign shockers that keep Le Pen in the media spotlight are not a rarity for the far-right party, and don't come as surprise at a time when the party is in desperate financial straits and rapidly losing support.