National Front "Rallies" Behind a New Name

One of France's largest, but also most controversial, political parties is trying to change its brand, and in the process changing its name from the National Front (Front national) to the National Rally (Rassemblement national).

The announcement was made on Friday, June 1, 2018 during a party meeting in Lyon. Despite the name change, the party decided to keep its traditional symbol, a flame colored red, white and blue like the French flag.

"It closes a chapter of our movement, but it opens a new and better one that will not be less glorious," said Marine Le Pen, the current leader of the party and daughter of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The younger Le Pen surprised many when she passed into the final round of last year's presidential election, along with Emmanuel Macron. Though he wound up beating her, it helped demonstrate that the National Front/Rally has an ever-growing following. Its most well-known stance is against immigration, which many in France find appealing as more complications arise from its burgeoning population from Middle Easter and Muslim countries.

Those who do not support the party tend to see the National Front as virtual neo-Nazis, however, and there has been some concern that that image is alienating many who would otherwise find its stances appealing. The new name, which suggests a rally or labor union, is meant to indicate a desire to work with France's other political parties, especially others that are on the far right, compared to the "front," which was seen as overly defensive.

Speaking of being defensive, many reports indicate that Le Pen herself is feeling the pressure from the rest of her party after last year's near-victory. There has been talk of her possibly being replaced as the National Rally's leader sometime in the near future, particularly in favor of her niece, Marion Marechal.

Granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marechal is coming back into prominence after ostensibly leaving politics last year. The former lawmaker is twenty-eight years old and known to be quite erudite, with some feeling that she has a better understanding of political philosophy than her aunt Marine.

Despite her legacy with the National Rally, Marechal has dropped the "Le Pen" name on her social media platforms. As with the party's name change, this may be in a deliberate attempt to cultivate a less controversial image with the general public.

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