Marine Le Pen has been replaced as president of France’s leading far-right party, the National Rally.

Jordan Bardella became the first person outside the Le Pen family to lead the party since its founding 50 years ago.

The 27-year-old is a member of the European Parliament and won an internal party ballot, winning 85% of the vote.

His election comes at a crucial time for the National Gatheringas the party seeks to capitalize on its breakthrough success in this year’s legislative elections and Ms Le Pen’s performance in the presidential election.

But he also faces widespread public anger after a member of the National Rally in Parliament this week told another lawmaker of “return to Africa”.

Ms. Le Pen said she wanted to focus on leading the party’s 89 politicians in the National Assembly.

She is still expected to wield significant power within the party and run for president again in 2027.

Mr. Bardella had been acting president of the National Rally since Ms. Le Pen entered the presidential race last year.

He beat his rival Louis Aliot, 53, mayor of Perpignan and a senior party official for two decades.

Mr Aliot, a staunch supporter of Ms Le Pen’s rise and her former romantic partner, won the remaining 15% of the party’s vote.

Ms Le Pen lost to Emmanuel Macron in her third bid for the presidency this year, but won 44% of the national vote, her highest score yet.

Two months later, his party won the most seats to date in the lower house of parliament.

Ms. Le Pen went to great lengths to remove the stigma of racism and anti-Semitism that clung to the National Rally, to soften its image and broaden its audience.

‘New generation’

She notably distanced herself from her now ostracized father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who co-founded the party then called the National Front.

“Bardella is part of a generation of young people, very young, who got involved behind Marine Le Pen in the 2010s and who probably would not have joined the National Rally at the time of Jean-Marie Le Pen”, said political scientist Jean-Yves Camus. said.

“Progress today is called localism. It’s called defending borders. It’s called protectionism,” Bardella said in 2019, ahead of the European elections, rejecting what he called “the ‘mass immigration’.

For the past few months, 40,000 party members have voted online to elect the new party leader.

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