NANTERRE, France - The bitter family dispute within France's far-right National Front was set to come to a head Monday as party leaders prepared to discuss the status of founder Jean-Marie Le Pen after his latest controversial outbursts.
Patience with the irascible 86-year-old has run thin within the party in recent weeks after he reiterated his long-held view that the Nazi gas chambers were merely a "detail of history" and made comments about defending the "white world".
He arrived for a party meeting of the National Front (FN) at its headquarters in Nanterre west of Paris on Monday, which was due to be followed by the disciplinary hearing called by his daughter Marine Le Pen, who took over the leadership in 2011.
She said on Sunday that her father no longer represented the anti-immigration party, which opposes France's membership of the European Union.
"Jean-Marie Le Pen should no longer be able to talk in the name of the National Front, his comments are against the fixed (party) line," she told French radio.
Marine Le Pen has been actively trying to distance the party from its racist and anti-Semitic image as she plans her bid for the next French presidential election in 2017.
Her father indicated he would not appear before the disciplinary meeting, and was only there for an earlier meeting to discuss upcoming regional elections.
Arriving in Nanterre, he said he was "calm and determined as usual. I'm not changing at my age." In a sign of how deep the feud between father and daughter has become, the elder Le Pen was conspicuously dropped from a line-up of National Front leaders on stage during the party's traditional May 1 rally in Paris.
But determined to upstage his daughter, he nevertheless strode uninvited onto the podium to take the ovation of the crowd.
"I think that was a malicious act, I think it was an act of contempt towards me," Marine said on Sunday.
"I get the feeling that he can't stand that the National Front continues to exist when he no longer heads it." The spat broke out last month after Le Pen repeated the comments about the Nazi gas chambers and praised France's World War II leader Philippe Petain, who collaborated with the Nazis.
His daughter called the comments "political suicide" and said she would not support her father's bid for the regional polls.
It was announced that his 25-year-old grand-daughter Marion Marechal Le Pen, who is already a member of parliament, would stand in his place.
Under Marine Le Pen, the FN has enjoyed a series of election success, notably coming first in last year's European elections.