Marine Le Pen replaced as head of France's National Rally party

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

Jordan Bardella has become the first person outside the Le Pen family to lead the party since its foundation 50 years ago.

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

His election comes at a crucial time for the National Rally, as the party seeks to capitalise on its breakthrough success in this year's legislative elections and Ms Le Pen's performance in the presidential election.

But it is also facing broad public anger after a National Rally member in parliament this week told another lawmaker to "go back to Africa".

Ms Le Pen has said she wants to focus on leading the party's 89 politicians in the National Assembly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ms Le Pen has gone to great lengths to remove the stigma of racism and antisemitism that clung to the National Rally, to soften its image and to broaden her audience.

'New generation'

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

"Bardella is part of a generation of young, very young, people who engaged themselves behind Marine Le Pen in the 2010s and who probably wouldn't have joined the National Rally during Jean-Marie Le Pen's era," political scientist Jean-Yves Camus said.

"Progress today is called localism. It's called defending borders. It's called protectionism," Mr Bardella said in 2019, ahead of European elections, rejecting what he called "massive immigration".

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