By Sephanie Miller
Youth ambassador Davy Rodriguez officially resigned from his position in France’s National Front party, following the surfacing of a video allegedly depicting him shouting a racial slur outside of a nightclub. He has since tweeted his condemnation of the slur, but also questioned the actuality of his making the remark at all, according to ABC News.
“Even if this truncated video does not show the incidents of the night, it is obvious that nothing can justify such remarks,” Rodriguez tweeted on March 12. He continued that, “if I held them, and which are the opposite of all that I believe. I am horrified by the shocking remarks that are attributed to me and that I strongly condemn.”
French media source 3 Hauts-de-France reports that the target of the slur, a black man who was working as a bouncer at the club, filed a complaint for racist slurs and mild violence. The League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) also stated in a press release that they were to seek justice so that “the author of this racial insult knows an exemplary punishment.”
Party leader Marine Le Pen also took an official stance on the issue, stating, “This young man will not stay very long at the National Front… Given the situation it will be, according to the case law that is applied under my presidency, most likely excluded from the National Front.”
Shortly after, Le Pen went on to say that Rodriguez would “very probably” be excluded following an initial investigation; after which Rodriguez announced his resignation.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Rodriguez was a No. 2 in the youth party’s wing, having been sent to a weekend congress that would determine the status of the National Front’s governing capabilities. The Irish Times reports that Marine Le Pen has embarked on a mission to “rebrand” the Front’s public image.
Despite retaining the far-right party’s anti-immigration, anti-Islamic platform, Le Pen hopes to detoxify its mainstream image as the fringe group that her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, led for almost forty years. According to the Daily Mail, Le Pen worked to move the party from a protest to opposition movement so that it may been seen as being capable of creating alliances and governing.
The party membership’s move to endorse her proposal to alter the name “National Front” to “National Rally” seemingly indicates an agreement that the slow but steady willingness to make the transition and rid the party of the psychological barrier that has prevented it from appealing to new members and voters.
Opposing the Front’s name change is none other than Jean-Marie Le Pen himself. The Times of Israel reports the 89 year-old calling the name change a “political assassination” of the party he originally founded. The senior Le Pen was removed from in 2015 by his daughter after the release of several controversial anti-Semitic statements, as previously reported on by the BBC in 2015.