France's far-right National Front party no longer has access to "a single euro" after its bank accounts were frozen due to a payment dispute with its printers.
The companies owned by Fernand Le Rachinel, a National Front (FN) Euro MP, have not received full payment for posters and campaign material from the 2007 parliamentary elections, in which the party suffered a drubbing.
A lawyer of party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said that the printing companies were suing the FN and its leader for 803,482 euros (£630,000), and that a bailiff had frozen its accounts - meaning it could not take out a single euro. The party contends that the firms overcharged it. The amount is only a fraction of the 6.7 million euros (£5.3 million) which the FN owes Mr Le Rachinel for funding its parliamentary campaign.
The FN has been on the verge of bankruptcy since last year's elections, as most of its candidates failed to win the five per cent of the votes needed to have their campaign costs reimbursed by the state. Support for the FN plummeted to 4.3 per cent last year from an average of more than 10 percent in previous years, after President Nicolas Sarkozy's charm offensive to the far-Right saw much of its electoral base jump ship.
Mr Le Pen's lawyer said the FN was unable to pay the bill before a June 30 deadline, as it had not yet sold its vast headquarters in a chic Parisian suburb – for which it hopes to get 20 million euros (£16 million). Mr Le Pen, 79, recently auctioned off his bullet-proof car for 20,500 euros (£16,000) to reduce debts.
The veteran leader shocked France and Europe in 2002 by finishing second in presidential elections, but fell to a dismal fourth last year with less than 11 per cent of the vote - his worst showing since 1974.