France’s far-right veteran leader Jean-Marie Le Pen hospitalized

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Jean-Marie Le Pen, the veteran leader of the far-right in France, suffered a “mild heart attack” and was taken to hospital on Saturday, a close source said.

“Jean-Marie Le Pen has been hospitalized in a public institution in the Paris region. His family and friends are concerned but calm,” the 94-year-old’s advisor Lorrain de Saint Affrique said, confirming a story run by Le Point news magazine.

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Le Pen remains “conscious,” he added.

Le Pen, father of current far-right leader Marine Le Pen, has suffered several health issues in recent years.

In February 2022, Le Pen senior was hospitalized after suffering a “minor” stroke.

Jean-Marie Le Pen ran for president five times, sending shockwaves through France in 2002 when he made it to the second round of the election, which was won by Jacques Chirac.

The former paratrooper was the co-founder of the National Front – later renamed the National Rally – and spent decades whipping up anger over immigration.

While his political fortunes fluctuated sharply over more than half a century – his unabashed racism leading to him being dubbed the “Devil of the Republic” – he once boasted that the rise of the far-right around Europe showed his ideas had gone mainstream.

His daughter Marine Le Pen later tried to clean up the image of the party and kicked him out in 2015 over remarks he made that the Holocaust was merely a detail of history.

The party has since made significant inroads in both European and French politics.

Marine Le Pen got a far-right record of 23.15 percent of the vote in 2022 presidential elections, as the party won 89 seats in parliament, becoming the country’s main opposition party.

Born in the port of La Trinite sur Mer in the western Brittany region on June 20, 1928, Le Pen served in colonial wars in Algeria and Vietnam.

He became France’s youngest MP at 27 when he was elected to parliament in 1956.

Even in his later years, as he made fewer public appearances, he did not express regret for any of his controversial remarks or viewpoints.

“I was a committed fighter, loyal to my cause. An unfortunate cause, but I do not regret it,” he told AFP in April.

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