France’s National Front Tries Rebranding
France’s far-right National Front has rebranded with a new party name in a fresh start for the organization. National Front leader Marine Le Pen proposed the party should rename itself “Rassemblement National,” which translates to “National Rally.” Members now will vote on whether to confirm Rassemblement National as the party name.
Marine Le Pen took over the party presidency in 2011 and has since tried to revamp the image it gained under her openly anti-Semitic father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. In major moves, she has stripped her father of his honorary presidency and has sought to present a more mainstream facade for the party. The National Front reached record high levels of support in the 2017 presidential election, with Le Pen ultimately losing to centrist Emmanuel Macron in the final round of last year’s vote.
It’s unclear how Le Pen settled on the new name. The name bears some similarity to a political organization Le Pen started in 2012 called “Rassemblement Bleu Marine.” Le Pen said her party first registered the name “Rassemblement National” in 1986.
The new name apparently comes with new controversy. While the party is reportedly trying to reform its image as a racist, anti-immigrant organization, the new name is almost identical to that of a French Nazi-collaborationist party from World War II. The “Rassemblement National Populaire” was founded in France in 1941 to work with the Nazis and had a symbol that closely resembled the Nazi’s swastika flag. Party founder Marcel Deat died as a fugitive hiding in Italy in 1955.
The new name also comes with the threat of a lawsuit. Another smaller French right-wing party already uses the “Rassemblement National” name. Igor Kurek, president of the party, wrote in a letter published to Twitter: “Dear Marine, the RN (Rassemblement National) already exists and you can’t deny that when it has stood against your candidates several times since 2014. The RN is Gaullist and republican right, the FN is extreme right. The FN will NEVER be the RN and the RN will NEVER be the new FN.”
In France, trademarks and logos are registered with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI). The INPI register shows that the brand “RN Rassemblement National” and its logo were registered to a Frederick Bigrat in 2013. In a statement, the National Front said it bought the rights by private deed last month and the sale is in the process of being recorded by INPI.