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Far-right leader Le Pen hints at retirement

Latest update : 2008-09-11

After five attempts at capturing the presidential office, and 27 years of controversy and campaigning, French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen says he does not want to run for the top job in 2012.

France's veteran far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen hinted he could leave politics, saying in an interview published Thursday he was not planning a sixth run for the French presidency in 2012.
  
"There would have to be exceptional circumstances for me to be a candidate again," the 80-year-old National Front chief, who shocked Europe by making it to round two of the presidential race in 2002, told Valeurs Actuelles magazine.
  
Le Pen, who has led the National Front for 35 years, said he would stay at the helm for at least two more, until its next congress.
  
But he suggested he would be happy to hand over to his 40-year-old daughter Marine Le Pen, a leading figure in the anti-immigration party who has campaigned to soften its public image in recent years.
  
"Marine is not just popular for her name. She has personality, charisma. She is well-liked and goes down very well in the media."
  
The far-right firebrand, who has several past convictions for racism and anti-Semitism, gathered around 10 percent of votes in last year's presidential race.
  
But his party was thrown into financial crisis after losing state subsidies thanks to an unexpectedly poor showing in the parliamentary elections that followed.
  
The National Front has been forced to sell its headquarters in a Paris suburb to pay back millions of euros of debts.

Date created : 2008-09-11

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