The Last Act of Jean-Marie Le Pen

With each new session of the European Parliament comes an inaugural period during which a president is elected. So then why is an 80 year old, anti-Semitic, right-wing extremist suddenly in the captain's chair?

While the European Union waits for its new leader, it is a ceremonial tradition for the eldest member of the Parliament to temporarily serve as President. But what happens when the eldest member is Jean-Marie Le Pen?

It’s simple: Adherence to tradition is thrown out the window. When a group of EU politicians took note of the fact that France’s 80-year old extreme right leader is the Parliament’s oldest member and is slated to serve as President during July’s inaugural session, they began thinking of ways to change the old rule. Now they’re vowing to do whatever it takes to prevent Le Pen from presiding over the Parliament.

And thankfully for those trying to stop the Frenchman, Le Pen drew more negative attention to himself on Wednesday at a legislative session of the EU. Long known for downplaying the atrocities of the Holocaust, Le Pen stated this week that Nazi-imposed gas chambers were simply a “detail of Second World War History.

The right wing leader has recently been convicted and fined for the “justification of war crimes” after having said the Nazi occupation of France was “not particularly inhumane.” How’s that for a double negative?

German Socialist leader Martin Schulz, one of the strongest opponents of Le Pen, asks a good question: Why does France continue to elect Le Pen to lead one of its political parties, even after he’s been legally sentenced to hate speech? “The best solution would be that the French don’t vote for him,” he said. Maybe they’re just sticking to tradition.

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