France's far-right party now 'adult' and needs name change: Le Pen

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Former White House strategist Steve Bannon told party members of France's far-right National Front on Saturday that history was on their side and would eventually lead them to victory. "Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists", he said. "Wear it as a badge of honor", he told the crowd at the party congress.

In the presidential election, it appeared this strategy paid off, as Le Pen gained more than 10 million votes (33.9 per cent) in the final round, despite her weird and catastrophic performance in a debate with Macron, which cost her support.

"I won't go to Lille because I don't want to become ... an accomplice to the assassination of the National Front that will be underway there", he told RTL radio.

"Let them call you racists", Bannon said to the French National Front Party.

Last week, Bannon appeared in Rome to observe the elections and advocated for an alliance between the anti-immigrant League party and the populist Five Star Movement in Italy.

His arrival in Paris comes as the far-right giant of French politics is in a slump. Bannon gave his first European speech in Zurich earlier in the week and said Saturday that he was traveling the world to learn.

And heading the line-up of guest speakers is Donald Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon.

Despite being ousted from his White House post past year and feuding with Trump in recent months, Bannon praised the president's "economic nationalism" that he said "does not care about your race, your religion, your ethnicity".

Sylvain Lefevre  Getty Images
Sylvain Lefevre Getty Images

She also defended her far-right party's stance against immigration and in defence of French culture and security.

"Bannon, former strategic advisor to U.S. president, represents rejection of the establishment of which one of the worst symbols is Brussels's EU".

Bannon spoke only about the 28-year-old neice at the joint news conference with Marechal-Le Pen. She bowed out of politics after her aunt's presidential defeat, but is expected to come back in a new role.

Founded by Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in the 1970s, the National Front plans to change its name via a vote on Sunday. A new leadership structure and new bylaws are also being unveiled at the two-day congress.

A younger leadership circle will likely emerge, but Marine Le Pen, the only candidate for president, will remain.

"Welcome to Steve Bannon who will address the FN tomorrow at our congress and will meet ML [Marine Le Pen]".

Le Pen's niece Marion recently drew scrutiny from conservative activists by her appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of Republicans and conservatives near Washington.

Since taking over the National Front's presidency in 2011, Le Pen has worked to erase the footprint of her father - who has convictions for racism and anti-Semitism - to broaden the party's appeal.

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