France’s right-wing populist National Rally has elected 27-year-old MEP Jordan Bardella as the party’s leader. He replaced Marine Le Pen, who herself had been the successor to her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
The Le Pen family led the Rassemblement National – formerly the National Front – for a total of fifty years.
Members can choose between Bardella and Louis Aliot, Perpignan’s mayor during Saturday’s party convention. Bardella received 85 percent of the vote, Elliott 15 percent. Bardella is seen as a rising star inside the party.
The MEP has been acting president since Marine Le Pen temporarily resigned in September 2021. She will focus on leading the party’s faction in the Chamber of Deputies. The French politician is expected to run for the presidency for the fourth time in 2027. Bardella has already said he welcomes it.
The young Italian politician says he is part of a new generation of nationalists who want to break with the racism and anti-Semitism that Jean-Marie Le Pen and Front National have been associated with.
The party led by Marine Le Pen has already tried to distance itself from it, but its critics say there is still racism and that it is reinventing old ideas.
Bardella is currently under fire for defending a party member accused of racism. Fellow Grégoire de Fornas has been suspended from parliament after he shouted to his colleague Carlos Martins Bilongo to “go back to Africa” on Thursday. It happened when Bilongo criticized French immigration policy. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Bardella was complicit in “everyday racism”.
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