Jordan Bardella, a 27-year-old Le Pen protege, won almost 85% of the vote of RN party members.
France’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party has elected Jordan Bardella as its new president, overwhelmingly backing the 27-year-old MEP to succeed Marine Le Pen in the post.
Bardella, a party loyalist who had already been interim president for a year, won nearly 85% of party members’ votes, compared to 15% for his challenger Louis Aliot, who is Le Pen’s former partner and mayor of the southern city of Perpignan.
His appointment on Saturday comes after the party had its best showing in parliamentary elections earlier this year, winning 89 seats even after Le Pen failed to win. unseat Emmanuel Macron in his third presidential race.
It is the first time that the party will be led by someone who does not belong to the Le Pen family.
Le Pen, who has toned down some of the party’s anti-immigrant and eurosceptic policies, resigned from the RN’s leadership structure in 2021 ahead of his unsuccessful bid for president in this year’s election.
“I’m not leaving RN to take a vacation. I will be where the country needs me,” Le Pen said at the party convention on Saturday. She is expected to make another presidential bid in 2027.
Bardella, who hails from a tough working-class neighborhood, said he would continue his efforts to attract voters beyond the party’s far-right core.
He faces the daunting task of putting the party on a solid financial footing as he faces investigations into the alleged misuse of public funds by party members, including Le Pen.
Bardella told the Reuters news agency last week that the fact that someone outside the Le Pen family could chair the RN represented a “little cultural revolution”.
The former National Front party was founded in 1972 by Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Bardella became one of Le Pen’s most recognized lieutenants in the French media. His quick wit and brutal sound bites made him a formidable opponent for Macron’s ministers and lawmakers on TV shows.
A boxing enthusiast raised in a low-income housing estate in the Paris suburbs, Bardella quickly rose through the ranks of the party. In 2019, he campaigned for the European elections, when he took first place just ahead of Macron’s centrist party.
Bardella takes over after the French parliament on Friday cut the salary of a far-right lawmaker and temporarily banned him from the chamber for shouting “Go back to Africa!” as a black lawmaker spoke in a parliamentary session.
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