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France's Le Pen finances presidential campaign with her father's fund

Chesnot | Getty Images | Getty Images News

The leader of France's populist and anti-immigration National Front (NF), Marine Le Pen, is to borrow around 6 million euros ($6.3 million) from her father's fund after failing to secure financial backing for her presidential campaign from regional banks.

Traditional lenders refused to offer monetary support to the far-right party leader which resulted in Le Pen turning to her father's Cotelec political fund. NF has struggled to raise the 20 million euros required in order to run a full presidential and legislative campaign this year.

"The fundamental issue is that the French banks refuse to lend and choose candidates for the presidential election they finance and the ones they don't," Florian Philippot, deputy head of NF told Europe 1 radio on Sunday.


Blocking democracy

After several unsuccessful attempts to raise funds domestically, NF had turned to a Russian-backed lender in 2014 and was due to receive 9 million euros. However, the bank became insolvent thereafter.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine's father, also held the position of NF leader although was expelled from the party in 2015 after several convictions for xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

Philippot demanded action from the government to create a new law which would force domestic banks to lend to all political campaigns. He argued the financial system was deliberately attempting to block the NF from the democratic process.

"Why do the banks finance (far-left party leader) Jean-Luc Mélenchon and not us?" he added.

Far-right leader Le Pen had hit a wall in funding with only four months to go before French citizens head to the polls to cast their first round vote for a new president. The two most popular candidates then go head-to-head in the second and final round vote in May.

Recent polls suggest Francois Fillon, former prime minister and leader of center-right Les Republicains party, could comfortably defeat Le Pen. However, a dramatic upswing in support for France's NF cannot be ruled out - after all, opinion polls had indicated that Hillary Clinton would win the U.S. presidential election and the U.K. would stay in the European Union.

The anti-immigration and anti-Europe NF party describes itself as the protector of the working classes. However, at present, Le Pen must attract much more support to mount a serious challenge for the leadership, according to polls.