Jean-Marie Le Pen says he isn’t retiring just yet, international media reports to the contrary.
“I’m not retired, but at my post,” said the French Holocaust denier and far-right National Front Party leader.
Le Pen has been convicted on charges of anti-Semitism and spreading “racial hatred” for praising Nazism and questioning whether Jews were killed in Hitler’s gas chambers, among other controversial statements. In a speech to his party Sunday, according to The Associated Press, Le Pen responsed to a report last week in the French weekly Valeurs actuelles that said he would not run for president in 2012, and that he would retire by 2010 or 2011. In that interview he suggested that his politician daughter, Marine Le Pen, replace him. Le Pen has run for the French presidency in five elections, and his party has thrived politically — influencing the moderate-right to adopt some of his platforms — for the past 30 years through his appeals to nationalist and anti-immigration voters. He was given a political shot of adrenaline when he won the first round of presidential elections in 2002, beating the favored Socialist Party candidate, and revealing his until-then under-estimated popularity. On Sept. 14, Le Pen reminded his party that he planned on making a dent in upcoming European parliamentary elections as well as regional elections. As the Socialist Party continues to drain supporters since losing the 2007 election to Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right UMP Party, Le Pen said his party was “the only force of opposition,” to the French president, the AP reported.