The Another

    Le Pen distances herself from ally who marched with neo-fascists



    Marine Le Pen in Saint-Rémy-sur-Avre, in northwestern France, on April 16, 2022.

    “An accountant” is how Marine Le Pen refers to Axel Loustau, the former treasurer of the organization raising funds for her party, who was a prominent participant in a neo-fascist demonstration that took place in the streets of Paris on Saturday, May 6 Loustau’s presence alongside the violent far-right’s elite did not conform with Le Pen’s desire to reassure lackluster voters. “All those people, who at one time or another in their lives, and in the 50 years of the Front National’s existence, have served as accountants and even as members, are not part of my inner circle,” she said on French radio on May 9. She condemned the “masked and uniformed” demonstration but without lingering on the messages they conveyed. In a letter written in December to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, Le Pen requested the dissolution of “extremist groups,” including those on the far right, though they have in the past constituted a pool of candidates for her party.

    Read more Marine Le Pen tries to dissociate herself from violent far-right groups

    This was the case with Loustau, a Rassemblement National (RN) regional councilor in the Paris region until 2021. The video broadcast by the organizer of the Comité du 9 Mai demonstration shows the former member of the Groupe Union Défense (GUD, a violent and anti-Semitic movement) participating in the tribute to the far-right activist Sébastien Deyzieu, in the cobbled courtyard where he was killed in 1994. Loustau stood shoulder to shoulder with Olivier Duguet, another former treasurer for Le Pen’s fund-raising organization. Frédéric Chatillon, the other former GUD member working with Le Pen and the closest to her of the three, remained in his Italian residence but still expressed support for the gathering. In 2019, the three men all in their 50s stood side by side in the defendants’ box in a Paris criminal court, during the trial against them for misappropriating funds in the micro-party Jeanne. Duguet and Chatillon were convicted and Loustau was acquitted.

    Jeanne was created in the fall of 2010 to financially help Le Pen take over from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who held the purse strings of the Front National (FN, RN’s predecessor) with his own micro-party. Le Pen entrusted the financial fate of her political rise to two men she now says were distant acquaintances. Nevertheless, in the early years of her party presidency, Loustau was an omnipresent figure in the FN.

    ‘Absolutely not a close friend’

    Loustau and Le Pen have known each other since they were students at university – their respective fathers were already friendly. “But, she and I only became friends in the late 1990s,” he told 2016 The Parisian. “I have more of her ear than the others. Not because I’m her buddy, but because I’m a skillful business leader.”

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