Le vieux n'est pas morU
-Jean-Marie Le Pen
C'est une diva qui est un train de rater sa
- Bruno Megret
Only days before this manuscript was to go to press,
the leadership of the National Front entered into a fratricidal war that
may ultimately lead to its political suicide. Unable, or perhaps just un-
willing, to savor its relative successes in the 1997 legislative elections
and the 1998 regional contests, the National Front did what the far right
has always done: it decided to eat its own. Turning a blind eye to the
harsh lessons of history, the French far right split into two nearly equal
political movements-the National Front, still under the stewardship of
Jean-Marie Le Pen, and the National Front-National Movement, led by
former National Front general delegate Bruno Megret.
Although internal conflicts had been brewing for some time, even
astute political observers of the French far right like Jean-Yves Camus
believed that Megret would once again back down and politely swallow
the verbal onslaughts ofJean-Marie Le Pen. Even as the crisis continued
to mount, Camus argued that "[Megret's] not going to give up at 49,
time is on his side. That's why he will try to calm things down and wait
for an opportunity"
December 8, 1998). But this time Le Pen
had pushed Megret too far.
Megret's patience with Le Pen's snide and at times vicious verbal as-
saults was legendary within the movement. He and the other leaders at
the top of the National Front's organizational pyramid suffered gallantly
through the many years of Le Pen's rhetorical excesses, brushes with the
law, and political missteps, which include a litany of ridiculous, some-
times criminal acts. While Le Pen's behavior served to anchor him and
his party in the more populist sectors of French society, it may have
hindered their progress with more mainstream voters, thus making it
difficult for the Front to surpass the artificial threshold of
percent of
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