Founder of far-right French party Jean-Marie Le Pen has 'heart attack'

Jean-Marie Le Pen, 94, suffers a ‘mild heart attack’: Founder of French far-right National Front party is taken to hospital where he remains conscious in latest health scare

  • The founder of the far-right National Front was taken to hospital on Saturday
  • He is said to have had a ‘mild’ heart attack and his family is at his bedside
  • Le Pen has repeatedly referred to the Holocaust as just a ‘detail’ in history

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the veteran leader of the far-right party Le Front National in France, suffered a ‘mild heart attack’ and was taken to hospital on Saturday, a close source said.

‘Jean-Marie Le Pen has been hospitalised in a public institution in the Paris region. His family and friends are concerned but calm,’ the 94-year-old’s advisor Lorrain de Saint Affrique said, confirming a story run by Le Point news magazine.

Le Pen remains ‘conscious,’ he added, and his family are said to be at his bedside.

Le Pen, father of current far-right leader Marine Le Pen, has suffered several health issues in recent years.

In February 2022, Le Pen senior was hospitalised after suffering a ‘minor’ stroke.

Jean-Marie Le Pen is in hospital after a ‘mild heart attack’, a source close to the leader has said

The founder of far-right party Le Front National, now Le Rassemblement National, was kicked out by his own daughter Marine le Pen in 2015 over comments he made about the Holocaust

Jean-Marie Le Pen ran for president five times, sending shockwaves through France in 2002 when he made it to the second round of the election, which was won by Jacques Chirac.

The former paratrooper was the co-founder of the National Front – later renamed the National Rally (Le Rassemblement National) – and spent decades whipping up anger over immigration.

While his political fortunes fluctuated sharply over more than half a century – his unabashed racism leading to him being dubbed the ‘Devil of the Republic’ – he once boasted that the rise of the far-right around Europe showed his ideas had gone mainstream.

His daughter Marine Le Pen has taken over the party, rebranding it the National Rally in a bid to distance herself from her father’s provocative outbursts and alleged anti-Semitism. 

For decades the elder Le Pen waged a nationalist battle against France’s political establishment, accusing it of being too soft on immigration and of diluting French national identity in its acceptance of greater European integration.  

Marine Le Pen later tried to clean up the image of the party and kicked him out in 2015 over remarks he made that the Holocaust was merely a ‘detail’ of history.

The party has since made significant inroads in both European and French politics.

Marine Le Pen got a far-right record of 23.15 percent of the vote in 2022 presidential elections, as the party won 89 seats in parliament, becoming the country’s main opposition party.

French National Front president candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen pictured in 2002

Le Pen blasted Marine at the time, after she sent her ‘henchmen’ to remove him, saying she was not prepared to do it face-to-face because ‘it’s dirty to kill your daddy’.

The then-87-year-old politician was thrown out of the party after a three-hour internal disciplinary hearing by the National Front’s executive bureau.

The complaints targeted recent public statements by Le Pen, including those in which he downplayed Nazi gas chambers and insulted his daughter and the party’s No. 2 figure Florian Philippot – whom father Le Pen openly distrusts. 

Born in the port of La Trinite sur Mer in the western Brittany region on June 20, 1928, Le Pen served in colonial wars in Algeria and Vietnam.

He became France’s youngest MP at 27 when he was elected to parliament in 1956.

Even in his later years, as he made fewer public appearances, he did not express regret for any of his controversial remarks or viewpoints.

‘I was a committed fighter, loyal to my cause. An unfortunate cause, but I do not regret it,’ he said in April.

Le Pen handed over power within the National Front to his daughter in 2011, who soon sought to address the party’s reputation. 

In 2017, he was found guilty in a court of inciting racial hatred over comments he made about travelling communities. He was ordered to pay a fine equivalent to just over £4,000 for the outburst.

In the same year he was charged with inciting racial hatred a second time over comments he made in 2014 in which he ‘joked’ about Nazi ovens which were used to burn the bodies of Holocaust victims.

He referred to a Jewish French celebrity and made a pun using the French word for oven to suggest the star would be part of ‘a batch we will get next time’.

He has repeatedly made racist remarks about Muslims, Jews and other minority groups in France. 

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