France: Ultra-right candidate removed over neo-Nazi tattoos

France’s ultra-right National Front (FN) party has removed a candidate from its list for the local elections in March because of his neo-Nazi tattoos. A party representative made the announcement today in the central French town of Châteauroux.

“Given the justified emotions sparked inside the party by the tattoos of this local FN supporter, it has been decided that Bastien Durocher will not be on our candidate list,” said Matthieu Colombier, the leading candidate on the local FN list there. The anti-Fascist association Rafi recently posted photographs online showing that the 25-year-old Durocher has a faithful reproduction of the sign of the SS Charlemagne division, which was comprised of French volunteers during the war, tattooed on his left arm.

Durocher claims to have distanced himself from neo-Nazism today and has assured the party that the tattoo was just a youthful indiscretion from the time he was 19. He also said he has made an appointment with a specialist at the start of March to get the tattoo removed.

The FN decision to get rid of the candidate with the neo-Nazi tattoo is part of the strategy of party head Marine Le Pen, who has been endeavoring to rid the party of its anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi label ever since taking charge in 2011. Evidently she is succeeding, because her personal popularity and that of her party are rising.

A recent public opinion poll found that more than one-third of the French espouse FN ideas. As many as 46 % no longer see Le Pen as a representative of the ultra-right, but see her rather as a representative of “the patriotic right who cares about traditional values.”