Le Pen steps down as FN president to gather "all the French"

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-25 09:14
Le Pen steps down as FN president to gather

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, celebrates after early results in the first round of 2017 French presidential election, in Henin-Beaumont, France, April 23, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS -- Marine Le Pen, French presidential frontrunner representing the far-right National Front (FN), said on Monday that she would step down as the party's leader to focus on gathering large number of voters ahead of the decisive round in May.

"I have always considered that the President of the Republic is the president of all the French and must gather all the French, but it is necessary to translate words into act," she told France 2 public television.

"I decided to leave the presidency of the National Front, and I am no longer the president of the National Front. I will be above partisan considerations," she said.

Le Pen brought the anti-establishment FN party into the country's political mainstream on Sunday's first round to elect new president for the next five years.

She came second with 21.30 percent, or 7.67 million votes, a record number mirroring a growing public support for anti-immigrant party hostile to Europe.

Le Pen, the 48-year-old female presidential contender, succeeded in 2011 his father Jean-Marie Le Pen to head the NF party, which he created in 1972. Since then, she has been working to softening the party's image by targeting widespread support of young public and workers.

"The French should not be afraid nor of me neither of my project. The system is trying to make us a caricature permanently," she said.

"We are the ones who will defend the most and the best the democracy. None of my actions will be carried out without the people or against the people. I am the only one who can guarantee the French's protection," she stressed.

Despite a surge in FN public endorsement boosted by rising security fears and divided ruling camp, Le Pen is still believed to be lack of a strong majority and enough solidity to win the presidential run-off.

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