Dead and senile among France’s far-right candidates
Described as a “faithful” supporter of France’s National Front (FN), Marie-Louise J seemed like a perfect candidate to stand for the far-right party in the country’s upcoming municipal elections.
There was just one problem: she passed away on February 18th, aged 96.
But this did not stop the FN from including her as a candidate in the town of Enghien-les-Bains, just north of Paris, France Bleu radio revealed Monday.
The elections, scheduled for March 23rd, work on a list system. Parties can put forward a list of candidates for each municipality and the majority of councillors are drawn from the list that receives the most votes.
Marie-Louise J featured in 32nd place for the FN’s Enghien-les-Bains list.
Jean-Michel Dubois, who heads the FN’s list for the town, told Radio France Bleu that he had been unaware of the candidate’s death until March 11th, five days past the deadline for filing the lists.
“I was travelling overseas and nobody told me,” he said.
With the list already validated by the local prefecture, it cannot now be altered.
The news came at the same time as the FN was hit by another potential embarrassment over its candidate lists, after AFP reported that at least 80 FN candidates across France are foreigners from other EU countries.
The party has frequently voiced its opposition to non-French citizens, even those from the EU, voting in local elections.
FN lists for the towns of Sainte-Marie la Mer and Corbas each feature one Romanian candidate, while a Bulgarian is standing for the party in Villeurbanne.
There are also three Spanish citizens on FN lists in Paris, and around 20 Portuguese candidates across the Ile-de-France region.
However, the inclusion of deceased and foreign candidates is perhaps the least of a number of problems to have faced the FN over its election lists in recent weeks.
Since the lists were first published, a number of FN candidates have been involved in controversies over apparent extreme-right beliefs.
‘Being fascist is not a crime’
Last week, the head of the FN list for Cluses in the Haute-Savoie region announced the “immediate exclusion” of fellow candidate Thierry Paimparet after photos of him accompanied by anti-Islamic comments emerged online.
Several photos posted on Paimparet’s Facebook page showed the 50-year-old in military fatigues and holding a gun, accompanied by captions such as “Anti-Islam, anti- Chechen” and “Rather be invaded by Vladimir’s Russia than suffer the Islamisation of France”.
Among his favourite books, he had listed Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”.
Earlier this month, the party excluded Vitrani Joseph from its list for Roanne in Loire after he expressed his admiration for Benito Mussolini on his Facebook page, along with comments such as “Being fascist is not a crime”.
Just five days before, several Facebook photos had emerged of another FN candidate, Séverine Amelot,posing in front of a Nazi flag.
She could not be removed from the FN’s list for the town of Nevers in central France as it had already been validated.
Candidates added to lists without consent
Others have requested to be removed from FN lists after alleging that they had been added without their knowledge.
In Grand-Quevilly, near Rouen in northern France, the entire FN list had to be withdrawn after 22 out of 35 candidates said they had not given their consent, believing they had been signing a petition rather than a candidate registration form.
And in Orleans, in central France, prosecutors have opened an investigation after a couple in their 90s, one of whom suffers from Alzheimer’s, were included on the FN list, French daily Le Monde reported.
The newspaper said it had found at least a dozen similar cases across France where FN candidates had asked to be removed from lists.
The FN’s leader, Marine Le Pen, has claimed the controversies surrounding the party’s election candidates are the result of unfair media scrutiny.
“We have nearly 22,000 candidates”, she told reporters at a press conference earlier this month. “We are not police officers, we do not go through them all. It is only the media that scrutinizes the FN candidates. If we did the same with other parties we might discover some things.”
Nevertheless, the FN is expected to do well in France’s local elections. It has put up a party record of 596 lists across the country and polls suggest it could take close to 30 percent of the vote.