PARIS (Reuters) – French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose campaign for the April presidential election has been shaken by a series of defections, said on Saturday that if members wanted to leave her party they should do it immediately.
Le Pen, leader of the National Rally, is running second or third in opinion polls that show a tussle among right and far-right candidates to win a second-round runoff spot against President Emmanuel Macron. Macron himself is leading polls and seen as likely to secure the other spot.
“Those who want to leave can do so but they need to do it now,” Le Pen said on the sidelines of a meeting of European far-right leaders in Madrid.
“Having people here while their heart or their mind is elsewhere is unbearable. It is a total lack of dignity and respect towards all of our supporters,” she added.
On Friday Le Pen’s niece Marion Marechal, a popular figure among far-right French voters, dealt a blow to her aunt by saying that far-right rival Eric Zemmour was a better candidate. Le Pen’s campaign has already seen the defection of two EU lawmakers.
While the National Front – rebranded National Rally – has dominated the French far-right for decades, first led by Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie and then by her since 2011, it has always failed to reach power beyond a few municipalities.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Frances Kerry)