STRASBOURG, France — Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader trying to become president of France, already has a day job as a lawmaker in the European Parliament, a position she regards with open contempt. She misses votes, mocks the process and cheers for the demise of the European Union.
Even so, Ms. Le Pen is willing to accept a salary of 101,808 euros (about $110,000), a generous per diem and an annual staff and office budget in excess of €340,000. In February, the Parliament halved her compensation after fraud investigators concluded that she had wrongly diverted money to pay for National Front party activities in France.
The scandal, which has not fazed Ms. Le Pen’s supporters in France, is another example of how Europe’s right-wing parties happily provoke populist fury by attacking the European Union — yet also happily pocket government salaries and other benefits. For some far-right politicians, a perch in the European Parliament can mean a lucrative sinecure, easy news media exposure and immunity from criminal prosecution at home.
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