Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder and former leader of France’s far-right National Front (FN) party, has put in a vote of confidence for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
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Le Pen, 87, announced his support on Twitter today, in a message that translates to "If I was American I would vote for Donald Trump...but may God protect him!"
Si j’étais américain, je voterais Donald TRUMP… Mais que Dieu le protège !— Jean-Marie Le Pen (@lepenjm) February 27, 2016
Le Pen and the FN are controversial fixtures in French politics. The party, founded in 1972, has a long history of anti-immigration rhetoric. Le Pen himself, who led the party from 1972 to 2011, is well known for his inflammatory statements. He has faced numerous accusations of racism, xenophobia, and Antisemitism.
In 2012, he was convicted under French law of contesting crimes against humanity for saying that the Nazi occupation of France was “not particularly inhumane.” He suggested that the 2014 Ebola outbreak could serve as a solution to the global population boom. In the 1980s and again in 2015, Le Pen referred to the Holocaust as "a detail" in World War II history.
He was formally expelled from the National Front for those comments in August 2015 following a feud with his daughter, current FN leader Marine Le Pen.