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France’s right-wing populists are looking for a new leader: Le Pen’s “darling” versus provincial representatives

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After the election victory of the right-wing populists and conservatives in Italy, the French right-wing populists have been electing a new party leader since this weekend. Marine le Pen intends to focus on parliamentary group leadership in the future.

The election of her successor – two candidates close to the Le Pen family are running – provides information about the future direction of the party. The choice is between 27-year-old interim chief Jordan Bardella, a Le Pen closest confidante, and 53-year-old Mayor of Perpignan, Louis Aliot. Both also have very close personal ties to the Le Pen family.

Party members electronically elect the new chairman by November 3rd

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Aliot has been an important figure in the party for over 20 years: he was Marine Le Pen’s life partner for ten years until 2019 and was the party’s vice-president for a long time. Since his election as mayor in 2020, he has represented his party less in national politics than in rural France. The party leader will be elected by party members in electronic voting by November 3rd.

Louis Aliot
© AFP / AFp

However, the favorite is Bardella, who comes from an Italian immigrant family and dates a niece of Marine Le Pen. The successful performance of the team with Le Pen, which was able to win 89 MPs in the general election, also makes him shine.

Jordan Bardella
Jordan Bardella
© AFP / AFP
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But Aliot, who has a doctorate in law, has many friends among Le Pen’s confidants and party supporters. They argue that the party can only attract more voters through a local focus.

The estimated 40,000 party members – 12,000 were apparently recruited in a month – have to choose between an ambitious youth and tradition, France’s media speak of a choice between Le Pen’s darling and the representative of the far right in the province.

Bardella is considered Le Pen’s “good soldier”. He joined the party at the age of 16, gave up his geography studies for politics and admires the boss: “I only became a member because of Marine Le Pen.” The MEP appears eloquently on television and implemented Le Pen’s strategy of de-demonization the party around. The more discreet Louis Aliot worked with Le Pen on the image of the party before him.

The election is therefore not about a new ideological orientation, but about a continuation of Marine Le Pen’s ideas, while at the same time she can outwardly distance herself somewhat from party politics.

However, she still holds the reins regardless of who wins. It is likely that Le Pen will stand again in the presidential election in France in 2027. Both candidates for party leadership say in unison that she is the best candidate.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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