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The making of Marine Le Pen: Seven dates that forged France's firebrand

Helene Fouquet, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

PARIS -- Marine Le Pen has placed herself among the front-runners to be France's next president by ditching the anti-Semitic rhetoric that her father used to build up her party.

Yet Jean-Marie's youngest daughter spent most of her life steeped in far-right ideology as the National Front grew on the fringes of French politics in the 1970s and 1980s.

The 48-year-old candidate may have swapped her father's racism for promises to protect "patriots" from globalization, but her political identity remains entwined with the party's troubled origins.

These seven dates show how the candidate was shaped by her father's career.

Nov. 2, 1976: Bombed

The night before Jimmy Carter's U.S. presidential election victory, 8-year-old Marine was at home in the Le Pen family's Paris apartment when several pounds of dynamite ripped through the building. Police said it was an attempt to assassinate her father, though the perpetrators were never caught.

Marine survived unscathed and says the experience marked the beginning of her political awareness. It also intensified her relationship with Jean-Marie.

"When I was still playing with dolls, I became aware of this terrible and incomprehensible thing for me: My father was not treated the same as others, we are not treated the same as others," she said in her 2006 autobiography, "Against the Flow."

After the attack, the family moved out of Paris to Montretout, an estate on the edge of the capital where a wealthy supporter had left Jean-Marie a 19th century red-brick mansion in his will. Marine would live there with her father for almost four decades.

Oct. 10, 1984: Abandoned


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