France's National Rally elects Bardella, 27, as Le Pen's successor

© Christian Hartmann, Reuters

France's far-right Rassemblement National (RN) elected Jordan Bardella as its new president on Saturday, overwhelmingly backing the 27-year-old European Parliament member to succeed Marine Le Pen in the post.

Jordan Bardella, a self-confident 27-year-old, saw his status as rising star of the far right confirmed on Saturday, after party members elected him to succeed veteran leader Marine Le Pen as head of the National Rally.

The Paris-born politician was the odds-on favourite to take over the party after Le Pen decided to step back from the role after 11 years at the helm. Formerly known as the National Front, the party had been run by Le Pen's father Jean-Marie for 40 years before that. Bardella is now the first party chief outside the family dynasty in a half-century.

"The fact the party president will not have the name Le Pen is the sign of openness and confidence that Marine has in the new generation," Bardella told AFP during a recent trip to eastern France. Not that the ultra-loyal protege, who was elected to the European parliament in 2019, is planning to try to overshadow her.

"I am a continuity candidate, with the aim of building on the incredible legacy that Marine is handing over," he added.

At the event, Bardella spoke confidently on stage, without notes, for 40 minutes, sharing details about his childhood on the eighth floor of a drab tower block in the crime-ridden Seine-Saint-Denis area northeast of Paris. He lived with his mother, an Italian immigrant and single mother.

'Step aside'


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