France's Le Pen pulls out of election after feud with daughter

PARIS (AFP) - Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France's National Front, said he was pulling out of regional elections Monday after a fierce public spat with his daughter who now leads the far-right party.

Mr Le Pen incurred the wrath of Marine Le Pen by repeating an assertion that the Nazi gas chambers were a "detail of history" and following that up with a defence of France's World War II leader Philippe Petain, who collaborated with the Nazis.

This appeared to be the last straw for Marine, who accused her father of committing "political suicide" and saying she would not support his candidacy in regional elections.

Le Pen senior appeared to fall on his sword Monday after a week in which the family feud dominated headlines in France.

He told Figaro magazine he would not be standing in the southeast of France for the party even though "I think I was the best candidate for the National Front".

But in stepping down, the 86-year-old appeared to get in another dig at his daughter, who has been trying to clean up the party's racist and anti-Semitic image in a bid to make it more electable.

Asked by the Figaro who should stand in his place, he anointed his granddaughter Marion Marechal-Le Pen, 25, a rising star in the party with social views considered more conservative than Marine's.

"If she accepts, I think she would head a very good list (of candidates). She is certainly the best, I am not going to say after me, but she is," he told the magazine.

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