Front National (France)

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Front National logo, circa 2015 Credit: Front National

The Front National (English: National Front) is a right-wing, nationalist French political party, that has been described as 'fascist and racist'.[1]


Founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the Front National (FN) reportedly 'floundered on the margins till 1984 when it won seats in the European Parliament'.[1] Then in the 2002 presidential election, Le Pen made it into the presidential run-off, having beaten the socialist candidate in the first round, though he lost to Jacques Chirac.

In 2011, Marine Le Pen took over leadership of the party from her father.


The FN 'strongly opposes the European Union, is authoritarian on law and order issues and seeks the return of the death penalty' and, as well as opposing immigration, has been described as 'Islamophobic' and 'antisemitic, despite its claims to have changed'.[1]

The British group Hope Not Hate notes that Jean-Marie Le Pen has convictions for dismissing the Holocaust as a 'mere detail' of the Second World War, for violence and for claiming the Nazi occupation was not 'particularly inhumane'. Meanwhile Marine Le Pen has compared what she calls the 'weekly illegal blocking of public streets and squares throughout France for Muslim prayers' with an occupation of parts of French territory.[1] She appeared in court in October 2015 on hate speech charges for this statement.


2012 campaign

The finances of the FN's 2012 elections can be broken down in the following way:

  • Subscriptions: 1 406 035 euros (11.9%)
  • Contributions from leaders: 577 760 euros (4.9%)
  • Individual donations (since 2011 individual donations have been capped at 7,500e/person): 262 666 euros (2.2%)
  • Public financing (through tax breaks): 1 835 199 euros (15.5%)
  • Other: 7 783 519 euros (65.5%)

Total: 11 865 179 euros

The finances of its micro-party Jeanne (created essentially to help fund Marine Le Pen's campaign):

  • Subscriptions: 180 (0%)
  • Contributions from leaders: 0 euro (0%)
  • Individual donations: 11 500 (0.6%)
  • Public financing (through tax breaks): 0 euro (0%)
  • Other: 1 968 644 euros (99.6%)

Total: 1 980 324 euros

Russian loans

In 2014, the First Czech Russian bank in Moscow lent the party 9.4m euros (£7.4m). Separately Le Pen revealed he had borrowed another 2m Euros (£1.6m) from a mysterious company based in Cyprus. Marine Le Pen makes no secret of her admiration for Putin (and neither do Nigel Farage and former BNP leader Nick Griffin); her party has links to senior Kremlin figures including Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister, who in 2005 ran an anti-immigrant campaign under the slogan 'Clean Up Moscow’s Trash'. Le Pen defended her decision but saying she had been refused loans by French banks: 'What is scandalous here is that the French banks are not lending'. [2]

According to the Front National's European Member of Parliament (MEP), Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, the nine-million-euro loan was granted only because party leader Le Pen has a good relationship with Putin. [3]

Private French banks have refused to lend money to certain candidates and parties ever since Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign in 2012 and the ensuing Bygmalion scandal. [4] [5]

The loans fueled much criticism coming from the establishment. At the time of the Crimean war crisis, the Moscow loan could partly have been understood as minor revenge. It followed President François Hollande’s decision to postpone the delivery to Moscow of the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers, in a deal worth €1.2bn. The mainstream pressed also feared that the Kremlin had recently been wooing the far-right in Western Europe. In a report in March 2014, a Budapest-based think tank argued that Russian influence in the affairs of the far right was a 'phenomenon seen all over Europe'. [2] The Guardian claimed :

'The Kremlin didn’t invent Europe’s far-right parties. But in an analogous way Moscow is now lending them support, political and financial, thereby boosting European neo-fascism.' [2]

2017 Presidential Elections

As of September 2016, the FN was in search of 27 million euros to finance its campaign. [5]

  • Wallerand de Saint-Just, treasurer of the FN, stated that the party would once again turn to the First Czech Russian Bank (FCRB) if no French bank were to lend it any funds. [5] He also informed Le Parisien that he was searching for funds in North America, without giving further details. [7]
  • Jean-Marrie Le Pen also announced that the micro-party founded in 1988 and still under his control, Cotelec, would also be backing Marine Le Pen financially during the elections, just as it had already done for the December 2015 regionals. This was announced despite Jean-Marie's exclusion of the party in 2015 and the threat he issued about presenting counter-candidates in 2017. The journal Le Parisien claims that Jean-Marie is doing so because supporting the FN is the only way to get investors and donators to fund Cotelec, that works just like a bank, with the same system as the one used by Jeanne. [7]

Legal issues

Funding fraud accusations


In 2015, the FN's micro-party Jeanne was put under examination for electoral fraud. Jeanne and COTELEC are both satellite micro-parties created to financially support the main party during election campaigns. Although COTELEC remains under the control of now ousted Jean-Marie Le Pen, Jeanne still serves this purpose.

The micro-party operates by making campaign loans to individual candidates at 6.5% interest rates. With the loans is included the mandatory purchase of 'election kits', that comprise of an array posters, leaflets, and even campaign websites. The 'kits' are supplied by a company called Riwal and are sold at 16.650 euros each. The total amount charged by the micro-party was of 1.8 million euros in 2011 and of 9.6 million in 2012. [8] In 2015, the party charged its candidates 9.5 million euros, despite being under investigation. [9]

When asked by Le Figaro magazine, Vice-president of the FN Jean-François Jalkh assured that the money lended by Jeanne came from private, individual creditors whose names he could not give out.

Juges criticized the mandatory character of this purchase, and accused Riwal of overcharging for these kits. The French state must reimburse all campaign costs if candidates win more than 5% of the vote, which gives the company the opportunity to run great profit margins (around 70%). The president of the group and friend of Marine Le Pen, Frédéric Chatillon, was put under examination for illegal financing of a campaign, fraud and abuse of public goods, and his micro-party was accused of fraud. [8]

Meanwhile, the company Riwal is suspected of:

  • having done accounting and campaigning work for the party free of charge;
  • having given out loans without interests;
  • taking charge of a 400,000 euro bill for the party;
  • having fictitiously employed two FN candidates during campaign times (legislative and presidential), Nicolas Bay and David Rachline, their salaries being disguises for campaign donations; [8]

All in all, the actors involved are accused of having put in place a fraudulent apparatus, gaining profit off the back of government funds. [9]

Marine Le Pen vividly denied all accusations of fraud. [8]


In May 2016, a commission launched by the Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et des financements politiques (CNCCFP) -an organ in charge of surveilling campaign finances- reevaluated the party's reimbursement demand. They estimated that the 9.5 million euro demand was excessive of 2.2 million euros, claiming that the micro-party Jeanne had again overcharged its products and services to candidates. [10]

On July 22nd 2016, the investigation over the suspected 2012 funding fraud was brought to completion. In its report, the floor demanded that FN treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just, vice-president Jean-François Jalkh, director of Riwal Frédéric Chatillon, his wife, Nicolas Crochet and current director of Jeanne Alex Loustau be put on trial for fraud and complicity in fraud. In that case the FN would also be put on trial for complicity to fraud, and Riwal and Jeanne for illegal campaign financing and fraud. [9]

Marine Le Pen still denied all of the charges filled against her party and supporters, and was not put under examination. [11]

The new investigation for Jeanne opened in October 2016, while Saint-Just and Jalkh's trial has not opened yet.

All the investigations do not appear to have dented Le Pen's popularity - even though she is the object of two of them. However, legal troubles constitute a risk for the party, which is struggling to underwrite Le Pen’s campaign, still €8 million short of its targeted budget and still facing calls to reimburse more than €300,000 to the European Parliament. [12]

European Parliament accusations

In late October 2016, it was revealed that the European Parliament was seeking to recover €339,000 from the Le Pen, as she and several other MEPs have faced questioning over suspicions that their parliamentary assistants were actually carrying out work for the party in France, in defiance of parliament rules. Le Pen’s lawyer said she would appeal the reimbursement order, and that he expected parliament to move to recover funds by docking her pay and expenses, as it did in the case of her father. [12]






  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hope Not Hate, Front National, Counterjihad Report: France, accessed 5 February 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Luke Harding, 'We should beware Russia’s links with Europe’s right', The Guardian, 08 December 2014. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  3. Sabrina Pabst, 'Is the Kremlin financing Europe's right-wing populists?', Die Welt, 29 November 2014. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  4. Marine Turchi, 'Présidentielle: le FN est à la recherche de financements à l’étranger', Mediapart, 12 September 2016. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lucas Burel, 'Présidentielle 2017 : Marine Le Pen cherche 27 millions d'euros et se tourne vers la Russie', L'Obs, 20 February 2016. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  6. 'Présidentielle 2017: Marine Le Pen a créé son association de financement', BFM TV, 02 May 2016. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Valérie Hacot, 'Présidentielle 2017 : Marine Le Pen aura les sous de papa', Le Parisien, 12 September 2016. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Julien Licourt, 'Front national : le micro-parti Jeanne mis en examen', Le Figaro, 06 May 2015. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 - Financement des campagnes FN en 2012: le parquet demande un procès, L'Express, 22 July 2016. Accessed 15 September 2016. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "parquetdemande" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "parquetdemande" defined multiple times with different content
  10. 'Les comptes de campagne du Front national épinglés', L'Express, 05 May 2016. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  11. Comptes de campagne : le parquet demande un procès pour le FN et deux de ses dirigeants], Le Monde, 23 July 2016. Accessed 15 September 2016.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Le Pen's legal headaches, Politico, November 24 2015. Accessed 25 November 2016.