France’s far-right this weekend chose a party leader outside of the Le Pen dynasty for the first time in its 50-year history – the latest sign of the movement’s attempt to convince voters that it has traded extremism for professionalism.
Before a glamorous ballroom, Marine Le Pen announced on Saturday evening that she has a stepson Jordan BardellaThe 27-year-old MEP had won the vote to succeed her at the head of the National Rally (National Rally). “I will pass by a party that is re-established and revitalized . . . that proves every day that it is a real party in government, the party that will rule tomorrow,” said the 54-year-old. “We must be ready!”
Succession will not change the power dynamics – Le Pen remains the undisputed head of the RN. Bardella, in a relationship with her niece, is almost a family. And Le Pen’s long-term strategy to detoxify the FN’s image and court new voters by focusing on the cost-of-living crisis gripping Europe is expected to change.
But the transformation comes at a difficult moment. The old demons reappeared last week when Grégoire de Furnas, MP for the National Front accept it For shouting “Go back to Africa” while a black MP was speaking about the dangers immigrants face in Parliament.
The incident is the party’s first wrong move since then unexpected win In the legislative elections in June that made it the largest opposition party at a time when President Emmanuel Macron’s Center Alliance lost its majority. It now has 89 MPs, its largest, and up from just seven in 2017.
The victory, which came less than two months after Le Pen lost her third presidential campaign and hinted she might retire, altered the party’s fortunes and returned to hopes of winning the next presidential election in 2027.
Although the National Front cannot pass laws on its own, it plays a role for the first time in making everyday laws, holding prestigious positions in the National Assembly, and training a group of experienced national leaders.
Jean-Yves Camus, a political science professor who specializes in European nationalist movements, said Bardella’s rise was another sign of how the National Front sought a transition from the era of its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was condemned for racist and racist rhetoric. Holocaust denial.
“There is a new generation of politicians in the RN who have come of age under the leadership of the Navy and not her father,” he said. The election of the 89 deputies is an earthquake, but a victory that carries new commitments. They have to show that their deputies are mainstream and respectful, do the work, and don’t go off the rails.”
Things are off to a good start in the National Assembly. Le Pen labeled the National Front as the responsible, wear-and-tie opposition that was fighting for the French people, in contrast to the left-wing Nobis coalition, which she described as vociferous and unpatriotic.
RN votes helped Macron’s government pass a key law to protect households and businesses from rising energy costs. But then everyone made the mistake of changing his location to vote for A motion of no-confidence in the Macron government sponsored by the left. The proposal failed, but Le Pen’s axis set the government on the knowledge that the National Front might one day help bring it down.
More importantly for the chronically indebted RN, the 89 MPs represent an annual cash injection of around €10m – double the amount in the last parliamentary session. Under France’s public finance system, parties receive payments for each elected official and the total number of their votes. Party officials said they will use the money to gradually pay off a controversial loan from A Russian Bank I came out in 2014.
Renaud Labaye, general secretary of the RN Group, likened the change to a small family business expanding into a business. “When I was Marine Le Pen’s parliamentary aide in 2017, we had seven MPs, maybe ten employees, and we were able to ask only two questions in the weekly question-and-answer session in the span of five years,” he said in an interview. “Now we have 89 deputies and about 110 employees, we have two of the six assembly vice presidents, and we can ask four questions a week!”
But the momentum was largely halted on Thursday, when de Fornas’ outcry led to the immediate suspension of the parliamentary session. De Fornas denied there was any racist intent, saying he was talking about boats and migrants rather than Carlos Martins Bilongo, his fellow parliamentarian, who was calling France Increase cooperation with European Union countries in assisting African migrants rescued from the Mediterranean.
On Friday, a parliamentary disciplinary committee imposed a maximum penalty of 15 days’ suspension and a temporary pay cut for De Fournas for “causing unrest” in Parliament.
Publicly, Le Pen and other British National Front officials fiercely defended de Fornas and accused their opponents of manipulating the incident, but some privately admitted that the MP’s words were “disastrous” and “lacking in humanity”.
It is too early to know the impact of the explosion on public opinion. Before this happened, the RN was associated with the Greens as the most popular political party in France, according to another Ifop . Pollup 12 points since 2017. Le Pen regularly ranks among France’s top three populist politicians, and Bardella recently topped the top 15.
During Saturday’s party conference, Bardella also defended de Fournas, vowing to strictly regulate immigration and to reserve welfare programs such as housing subsidies for French citizens.
“The vast majority of people in France are with us and agree with such policies,” he said.
“We are only one step away from power,” he concluded. “Recent efforts lie ahead that will lead to a change in leadership that the country and the French badly need.”
“Infuriatingly humble analyst. Bacon maven. Proud food specialist. Certified reader. Avid writer. Zombie advocate. Incurable problem solver.”