Jean-Marie Le Pen
Born on June 20, 1928, in a small seaside village in Brittany, France, Jean-Marie Le Pen was raised Roman Catholic. He entered French politics at a young age and became the youngest member of the National Assembly. He founded the far-right wing Front National party and ran in and lost French presidential elections five times. He made French history as the oldest person to run in a presidential election. Le Pen served as a member of the European Parliament for a number of years, and became known for his controversial xenophobic and anti-Semitic views.
Long before French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen became a well-known public figure and made history as the oldest presidential office candidate, he was a simple boy living in a small seaside village in Brittany. Le Pen was born on June 20, 1928, in La Trinité-sur-Mer, Brittany, France, to a Roman Catholic fisherman, who died in 1942 when a mine blew up his boat.
Following his father's death when Le Pen was 14, he endured a difficult childhood, becoming an adventurous adolescent who suffered from a lack of discipline, according to a 2007 Radio France International article. Le Pen was expelled from a number of schools, spent many a night at bars where he often engaged in fights. He was convicted on several different occasions for assault.
Le Pen shed his bad attitude upon graduating from law school and experiencing battle as a member of the Foreign Legion. He started his political career as the head of a student union in Toulouse. In Paris in 1956, he was elected to the National Assembly as a member of the populist party; At 28, he was the youngest member of the Assembly. About a year later, Le Pen became the the general secretary of the veterans' organization National Front of Combatants.
After losing his seat in the Assembly in 1962, Le Pen became involved in the music industry, but returned to his political interests in 1972, when he founded the far-right wing Front National party along with other members of the extreme right, including neo-Nazi pagans and traditionalist Catholics, according to RFI. Le Pen, who became a controversial and polarizing figure in his home country, ran in the French presidential elections in 1974, 1988, 1995, 2002 and 2007 and lost every time. He did, however, win a seat in the European Parliament in 1984 and was continually re-elected since. Following prosecution for the physical assault of Socialist candidate Annette Peulvast-Bergeal during the 1997 general election, Le Pen was suspended from the European Parliament, and banned from seeking office for one year.
Le Pen has been accused and convicted six times of xenophobia and anti-Semitism: He blames immigrants for high unemployment and wants to deport all illegal immigrants, according to a 2004 Associated Press article.
Politics run in Le Pen's family. One of his three daughters, Marine Le Pen, took over the role of leader of the Front National and one of his nine granddaughters, 22-year-old Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, ran for election in France's parliamentary race in June 2012.
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