Marion Marechal-Le Pen Quits Politics After Aunt’s Election Loss

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The feisty and fresh-faced niece of French presidential runner-up Marine Le Pen has quit politics amid simmering campaign disagreements over the direction of their family’s far-right party.

Marion Marechal-Le Pen, 27, is one of only two National Front (FN) lawmakers. Her decision to not stand for re-election in June’s parliamentary elections exposes increasing divisions within the party founded by her grandfather, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The charismatic Marechal-Le Pen — who was prominent during her aunt’s bid to lead France — said her decision was “gut-wrenching” but added she wanted to spend more time with her three-year-old daughter and gain experience in the world of business.

“You know my story. You know I’ve been in this political world all my life,” she wrote in a letter to a local paper. “At 27, it is time for me to leave it for a while.”

Marechal-Le Pen added: “I am not giving up the political fight forever. I have the love of my country embedded in my heart and I cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of my compatriots.”

On Sunday, Marine Le Pen secured almost 11 million votes — more than 1 in 3 of the total cast in France’s presidential election — but was defeated by centrist Emmanuel Macron.

However, that represents a record-setting peak for the FN — about twice the number of votes Jean-Marie Le Pen gathered in 2002 — and the result cemented the party’s place in France’s political establishment.

“As a political leader I profoundly regret Marion’s decision, but, alas, as a mother, I understand her,” Marine Le Pen tweeted Wednesday.

Marechal-Le Pen was aged just 22 when she became the youngest elected lawmaker since the French Revolution, winning her seat in southeast France on an anti-immigrant ticket.

She quickly became a face of the far-right party. She has been widely tipped as a future party leader and a potential rival to Marine Le Pen. However, Marechal-Le Pen is more socially conservative than her aunt.

During the presidential campaign the pair clashed on issues such as abortion rights, the euro, and economic protectionism. In a clear put-down in the run-up to the election Le Pen said that if she won, she would not give her niece a role in her government because she was “too young.”

Since taking over the leadership in 2011, Marine Le Pen has softened the party’s image.

Le Pen — whom a French — has steered the FN away from some of its overtly anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric in an effort to broaden its electoral base.

In 2015, she expelled her father after he repeated his view that the Holocaust was a “detail of history.”

Marion Marechal-Le Pen