Published On: Mon, Sep 30th, 2019

 Marine Le Pen delivers furious response after Jacques Chirac funeral snub | World | News

The funeral of Jacques Chirac

The funeral of Jacques Chirac (Image: ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty )

On Sunday, Mme Le Pen claimed she had been barred from attending the funeral, despite her earlier insisting it was “only natural” for her to take part in the Paris ceremony. “Seeing as the Chirac family has decided not to abide by republican traditions, Mme Le Pen will not be attending the ceremony,” a source in Mme Le Pen’s entourage said. The president of the populist Rassemblement National (RN) party confirmed the snub later on Sunday. “It is with regret that we take note of the Chirac family’s refusal to respect republican traditions, which allow all elected officials to take part in the memorial ceremony,” Mme Le Pen said in a Twitter post.

Earlier in the day, Mme Le Pen had appeared determined to join the ceremony organised in M Chirac’s honour, telling France 3 television that “now is not the time for political conflict” but rather the time to “pay our respects”.

On Saturday, she told the rolling news channel BFMTV it was “only natural” for her to attend M Chirac’s funeral, despite their “political differences”.

M Chirac had faced off against Mme Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, in a bitter runoff in the 2002 presidential election. 

The former head of state had refused to take part in a televised debate with his then-rival, denouncing M Le Pen’s “intolerance and hate”.

The anti-immigrant firebrand lost the run-off vote, but his unexpected success in the first round of voting shocked France.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen was not invited to the funeral (Image: Getty)

In his last speech before leaving office in 2007, M Chirac warned against the “poison” of racism, extremism and anti-Semitism in a barely veiled jab at M Le Pen’s party, then known as the Front National (FN).

Military honours were paid to M Chirac at the Hotel des Invalides in central Paris, before his coffin was taken in a procession to the church of Saint Sulpice.

There, the visiting heads of state and government joined French dignitaries at a funeral ceremony at Paris’s Montparnasse cemetery. 

M Chirac was buried in a plot next to his daughter Laurence, who died in 2016 aged 58 following a long battle with anorexia.

Jacques Chirac

Jacques Chirac was buried today (Image: Getty)

Many current and former leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and former US president Bill Clinton, travelled to Paris to take part in Monday’s events.

Later on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron will host the visiting leaders at a lunch at the Elysée Palace.

M Chirac was president from 1995 to 2007 and was Mayor of Paris and prime minister for both socialist and conservative presidents before winning power himself.

He was respected by many French people for cementing the country’s role as a player on the world stage and for his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a position that strained his relationship with America’s then-president, George W Bush.

M Chirac’s political career, however, was not without controversy.

Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron not a very popular president (Image: Getty)

He was found guilty and given a suspended sentence of two years for his part in a corruption scandal.

But, he served no prison time and the scandal did little to damage his image with voters.

He is ranked as the top president in modern French history, a poll published on Sunday found.

The poll, conducted by Ifop for the conservative weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD), showed that 30 percent of French people think that Mr Chirac was the best president of their lifetime, on par with General Charles de Gaulle, the popular leader of France’s resistance to German occupation during World War Two. 

Only seven percent of voters described current French President, M Macron, 41, as the best president of their lifetime.

The Ifop poll of 1,015 people was carried out online on September 27.

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