17 Jan 2011

Marine Le Pen elected France's National Front leader

8:02 am on 17 January 2011

The far-right National Front in France has announced that Marine Le Pen, daughter of the party's founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been elected to replace him as leader.

Jean-Marie Le Pen made a farewell speech to the party over the weekend, almost 40 years after he established it.

In the combative speech Mr Le Pen, 82, insisted that "unceasing immigration" posed a threat to France, the BBC reports.

Recent opinion polls have indicated that 17% of French people would vote for Marine Le Pen in next year's presidential election.

Despite sharing her father's anti-immigration and anti-Islam positions, Ms Le Pen is seen as offering a softer, potentially more electable image.

The former party leader's third and youngest daughter, Marine Le Pen was born in 1968 in the plush Paris suburb of Neuilly, but has built a political base as a local councillor in the working-class industrial towns of the northern Calais region.

Like her father, she has not avoided provoking ire with outspoken comments. Last month she compared Muslims praying in the streets outside overcrowded mosques in France to the Nazi occupation.