For These Reasons, Marine Le Pen Gave up the Leadership of the French Far-Right Party

Murad Jandali | 2 years ago




The French far-right National Rally party's leader, Marine Le Pen, recently announced that member of the European Parliament Jordan Bardella (27 years) had been elected as the party's new head.

Marine Le Pen (54 years) withdrew after 11 years as the leader of her family's party, and despite the election of her successor, she confirmed more than once her desire to continue her political work, while not ruling out the possibility of her candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections.

The National Rally—Rassemblement National (RN) in French—is seeking to build on the achievement of this year's legislative elections and to capitalize on the rise of the far-right elsewhere in Europe, particularly in neighboring Italy.

However, it faces public outrage over a racist comment this week by a member of the far-right party in Parliament that raised doubts about years of efforts to polish the party's image.


Jordan Bardella

On November 5, 2022, members of France's National Rally party elected Jordan Bardella, who is of Italian-Algerian origin, to succeed leader Marine Le Pen as head of the far-right party.

Bardella is the first leader of the far-right party outside the Le Pen family in half a century.

Jean-Marie Le Pen founded the National Front in 1972, before the party's name was changed to the National Rally, which was led by his daughter Marine Le Pen.

Bardella, seen as the new star of the French far-right, has repeatedly announced that he supports Marine Le Pen's candidacy again in the 2027 presidential election.

In turn, Bardella said in an interview with Agence France-Presse: "The fact that the party leader will not bear the name Le Pen is a sign of the openness and confidence that Marine has in the new generation," as he put it.

"I am a candidate for continuity, with the ambition to build on the wonderful legacy that Marin has received," he added.

The 27-year-old politician, born in Paris, has been the favorite to seize the presidency of the far-right party recently, especially with Le Pen's decision to step back from that task after 11 years of leadership.

Bardella's only opponent in the party leadership contest was Louis Aliot, the mayor of Perpignan in southwestern France, who, despite having been a party member for more than 30 years, could not match Bardella's profile.

Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal, 32, is off the hook, having left the party ahead of the presidential election to support far-right candidate Eric Zemmour.

Bardella likes to emphasize that he is from a new generation of patriots with few points in common with racists such as Jean-Marie Le Pen and the National Front.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Bardella considered that "without Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front would not exist. But without Marin, it wouldn't be here today. I turned it from a culture of protest to a culture of governance."


Made By Marine Le Pen

Jordan Bardella was born on September 13, 1995, in the city of Drancy in the Seine-Saint-Denis department in the Paris suburb, which is known for its heavy presence of immigrants of Arab and African origin.

He descends from a family of Italian origin who immigrated to France, but the French media indicate that Bardella has Algerian ancestry.

According to the specialized website Geneaster, his paternal grandmother is the daughter of an Algerian immigrant who also came to France in the 1930s.

In 2012 he joined the National Front, which was renamed the National Rally in 2018.

Together with Sebastian Chenu and Julien Sanchez, he became the party's spokesperson after Marine Le Pen's defeat in the 2017 presidential election.

The following year, Le Pen appointed him president of the National Youth Front, which later became Generation Nation.

Bardella is considered very close to Italian right-wing politician Matteo Salvini.

With the passage of time, he made himself strong in the party, and some even considered him to be the shadow of Marine Le Pen.

At the age of 23, he was named the first candidate on the National Rally list for the 2019 European Parliament elections in France.

In September 2021, Bardella was elected as interim head of the National Rally party, jointly with Le Pen, who was more focused on her campaign for the French presidential elections held in April 2022.

It is believed that Bardella is made by Le Pen, as Bardella's closeness to Le Pen and her family is not only political but also enters the private circle because he shares his life with Nolwenn Olivier, Marine Le Pen's niece.

This family's closeness to Le Pen caused him to be accused of nepotism, especially since Marine Le Pen does not hesitate to affirm her admiration for him.

In turn, lawyer Zaid al-Azem explained in a statement to Al-Estiklal that "the interest of the National Rally party requires presenting young faces to assume important positions in the party."

He also indicated that "there is another reason behind Marine stepping down from the leadership of the French far-right," saying that "Marion Maréchal, Marine Le Pen's niece, who split from the National Rally and joined Eric Zemmour's party, has begun to form a rivalry for her aunt among the supporters of the far-right in France, especially as she is a young woman and is starting to gain popularity, so Marin decided to put a young man loyal to her at the forefront of the party in order to be a competitor to Marion."

Mr. al-Azem noted, "Jordan Bardella was the right arm of Marine Le Pen throughout the past period, and in the coming period, he will be a shadow of Marine Le Pen as she continues to dominate the party."

"Bardella is also expected to be the candidate of the National Rally party and the far-right for the French presidential elections in 2027 if Marine Le Pen abandons that race herself," he added.


New Far-Right Leader

Bardella had pledged, in an interview with Reuters last week, that the National Rally would never return to the National Front—the first name of the French far-right party—in an attempt to remove the party from the circle of populism in which it has stuck for decades.

The National Rally, under Bardella's interim leadership, had for the first time emerged from its populist rhetoric focused on immigration, Islam, and Muslims in France, to a speech that touched more on the concerns of citizens, compared to when Le Pen led the presidential campaign on the basis of the purchasing power of the French.

However, this does not mean that Bardella's speech is not devoid of racism, given that inciting fear from the other is one of the pillars of the party's nationalist character. Bardella adopts the ideas of the far-right known through his hostility to immigration, immigrants, and the Islamic presence in France in particular.

Bardella believes that Muslims pose a threat to the future of France and the French, adopting in turn the theory of the Great Replacement, which raised some doubts about his closeness to the far-right journalist Eric Zemmour, who also ran for the presidency in its last session and founded the Restitution party.

Last February, a lawsuit was filed against Bardella after he described the city of Trappes, on the outskirts of the capital, as the "Islamic Republic," because it includes a dense Muslim community and one of the largest mosques in the Paris region.

An accusation to which the latter responded by saying: "I regret that French justice today seeks the same goal as the Islamists, which is to silence those who denounce reality, and those who refuse to see French neighborhoods transformed."

Last October, Bardella sparked controversy by warning that 40% of births in France currently take place between non-European families, considering that this constitutes a huge and violent change.

In one of his statements, he considered that any movement in France in support of the Palestinian cause is an excuse to create chaos, stir Islamic ambitions and provoke anti-Semitic feelings.

Observers confirm that Bardella, even if Le Pen runs for president in 2027, will most likely be the French far-right candidate in the 2032 presidency, and perhaps with a more mature, integrated and popular national grouping, away from the countryside.


Serious Incident

According to Le Monde, the transfer of the leadership of the National Rally to Bardella will enable Marine Le Pen to focus more on her work in the French Parliament, especially as she is the head of a bloc of 89 deputies (out of 577), which is ten times more than the previous elections, as well as working to strengthen her chances of becoming the country's president.

This also comes in a context in which racist incidents have risen, such as the statement of a deputy from the National Rally party before a plenary session of Parliament on November 3, 2022, when he said, "Return to Africa!" after a black deputy from the extreme left wondered what would be the fate of an immigrant boat that was facing difficulties in the Mediterranean.

On its part, the French National Assembly punished Gregoire de Furnas, a member of the far-right National Rally, by depriving him of half of his money within two months and preventing him from attending parliamentary sessions for 15 days.

The incident of the racist sentence said by a member of the far-right party in the National Assembly of the leftist deputy Carlos Martens Bilongo is still sparking a storm of debate in France, amid calls for caution against the growing power of the far-right, according to what Le Parisien reported on November 3, 2022.

In turn, the leftist France Rebellion party, to which MP Bilongo belongs, said in a tweet on Twitter, "The far right remains as it has always been racist and nauseating."

During his first speech as head of the party, Bardella defended MP de Furnas' statements, saying: "The professionals of selective discontent have manipulated a statement about the rational return of illegal ships to the ports of the countries from which they sailed."

On its part, Le Monde confirmed in its editorial on November 5, 2022, that the sentence uttered by the right-wing deputy was an attack on the French Republic, and on all citizens, not only on Representative Bilongo, who stated that the racist sentence targeted him and all the people who look like him, according to his expression.

The newspaper called for vigilance and caution against all plans and strategies that try to downplay the danger of what is unacceptable in French democracy, explaining that the words uttered by the far-right MP threaten the values of universality, openness, and equality, values that form the basis of France's message to the world.

Le Monde explained that this serious incident occurred on the eve of choosing an alternative to Marine Le Pen to head the National Rally within the framework of the new policy through which the far-right party is trying to integrate into French political life.

The newspaper said that the National Rally is striving to convince everyone that it respects the values of the republic, but the incident came to remind people that the right-wing house is still clinging to the project of exclusion, which carries threats of violence against those who do not resemble them, and that old habits die hard.

Since the 1980s, the National Rally, the former National Front, has turned into a political force with rising influence, but this reality has not translated into a major victory in any elections, because of the union of other political parties together in their opposition to the extreme National Front line.

Since her arrival as the head of the party in 2011, Marine Le Pen has adopted a strategy of presenting the party as a political party like the others in order to avoid staining her party with racism and extremism that alienate a part of the electorate from it.

Le Pen is known for her controversial statements, calling for the deportation of illegal residents. She also sought to freeze projects to build mosques and expand the law prohibiting wearing religious symbols, which observers say is mainly targeting Muslim women.