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HomeBusinessFrance's far-right party elects new leader to replace Le Pen MIGMG News

France’s far-right party elects new leader to replace Le Pen MIGMG News

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Jordan Bardella has replaced his mentor Marine Le Pen at the head of France’s prominent far-right party, vowing to defend French civilization from the perceived threats posed by immigration.

Bardella, 27, won an internal party vote with 85% support, marking a symbolic change for the Guard in the rising National Rally.

He is the first person to lead the non-Le Pen party since its founding half a century ago.

The National Rally seeks to build on its recent achievement in French legislative elections and the growing support of far-right parties in Europe, particularly in neighboring Italy.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen (Lewis Joly/AP)

It is also facing public outcry over a racist comment this week by a member of Parliament from the National Assembly.

Marine Le Pen is still expected to wield significant power in the party leadership and run again for France’s presidency in 2027.

She says she has stepped aside to focus on leading the party’s 89 deputies in France’s National Assembly.

Amid widespread applause, she hugged Bardella after the results were announced at a party conference on Paris’ Left Bank, and raised their arms to win.

Ms Le Pen said Bardella’s main challenge is to follow the party’s “roadmap” to taking power in France.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen celebrates the newly elected leader of the National Rally Jordan Bardella (Lewis Joly/AP)

“We will win,” the fans chanted.

Anti-racism activists, union leaders and politicians protested nearby on Saturday against the National Rally, denouncing what many see as a creeping acceptance of its xenophobic views.

Willis Alcac, 30, told the Associated Press that she was demonstrating in support of people facing ongoing racism in France. She described shock and dismay that a racist remark towards a black MP was considered “normal” by some in France.

The fact that the National Assembly has 89 deputies in the National Assembly is a strong indication. It should be a warning about how the far right can come to power.

In his speech, Mr. Bardella defended the National Assembly legislator who had been suspended over the suspension, calling him a victim of “stalking”.

Bardella described his family’s Italian immigrant roots and their pride in becoming French, but made it clear that not all foreigners were welcome.

“France should not be the hotel of the world,” he said, calling for “strict” restrictions on immigration.

He welcomed a representative of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party who attended the conference, calling for a “convergence” of similar powers in Europe.

Bardella has been the interim president of the National Rally since Le Pen entered the presidential race last year.

He beat party heavyweight Louis Elliott, 53, who argued that the National Rally needed to remake itself to be more acceptable to the mainstream right.

“The election of Bardella feels like a new push,” said 23-year-old party member Marie Odenette.

‘Embodies youth’.

Odinette, who grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Bordeaux, said her country was “dying,” noting the deterioration of public services that have struggled to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. She also described a “clear change in population” in Bordeaux.

Some French far-right supporters are increasingly pointing to the pseudo-“Great Alternative” conspiracy theory that the population of Western countries is being overrun by non-white, non-Christian immigrants.

This claim, promoted by proponents of white supremacy, has inspired deadly attacks.

Le Pen lost to French President Emmanuel Macron in her third presidential run in April but got her highest result so far. Two months later, her party won its largest number of seats to date in the lower house of parliament.

Ms. Le Pen worked to remove the stigma of racism and anti-Semitism that clung to her party. She markedly distanced herself from her now ostracized father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who co-founded the party then called the National Front and was repeatedly condemned for hate speech.

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