Written by 10:22 World

Jordan Bardella, the New Face of France’s Right

France has a taste for revolutions, and in the 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, it has found a mild-mannered, impeccably dressed insurgent who vows to upend the politics of the country in order to save it from “disappearance.”

Mr. Bardella, the president of the National Rally, is the cherished disciple of Marine Le Pen, 55, the perennial far-right presidential candidate. She once called him the “lion cub”; now she calls him “the lion.” A clean-cut, strong-jawed TikTok star, known for his love of candy, he has certainly shown a sure hand in the French political jungle.

As European Parliament elections approach on Sunday, Mr. Bardella, who led his party’s campaign, seems poised for a victory that could reshape French politics. An Ipsos poll published this past week gave the National Rally some 33 percent of the vote, more than double the 16 percent of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party.

Even if the effective power of the European Union’s only directly elected body is limited, this would be a stark repudiation of the French leader. As elsewhere in Europe, the normalization of the far right has proceeded apace.

It is as if a fractured France, weary of politics as usual and anxious about its future, has abruptly discovered a more acceptable version of the xenophobic politics that long cast the National Rally as a direct threat to French democracy. It has helped that Mr. Bardella is young, possesses a reassuring showmanship and does not bear the name Le Pen.

Indeed, his success has been such that a leadership battle looms. For now, Ms. Le Pen and her prodigal son are a hugging and seemingly harmonious duo (Mr. Bardella dates Ms. Le Pen’s niece Nolwenn Olivier). But Mr. Bardella’s popularity is such that there is a possibility the wunderkind will eclipse his maker.


Last modified: 8 June 2024