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Who is Jordan Bardella, the 28-year-old far-right French politician?

Jordan Bardella
Jordan Bardella Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AP
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Jordan Bardella, the far-right party leader who delivered a decisive blow to President Emmanuel Macron's alliance in European elections, is a charismatic 28-year-old celebrated by his followers as a transformative figure.

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Jordan Bardella, who assumed leadership of the National Rally (RN) in 2022 made a significant impact in the European elections by securing twice as many votes as President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance.

“Our compatriots have expressed a desire for change,” Bardella said. “Emmanuel Macron is tonight a weakened president.“

Born in 1995 in a Parisian suburb, the son of Italian immigrants has enjoyed a meteoric political career. Influenced by the violent riots in the French suburbs in 2005, he entered politics at the age of 17, joining Marine Le Pen's far-right party, the National Rally.

Two years later, he dropped out of a geography course to devote himself to politics. He served consecutively as a regional councillor, spokesperson, and vice-president of the party before leading the National Rally's list in the 2019 European elections at just 23 years old.

In November 2022, he was elected successor of Marine Le Pen as the president of the far-right party. The following year, he was appointed, for the second consecutive time, as the National Rally's lead candidate — and is expected to remain at the party's helm for many years.

Jordan Bardella, left, and Marine Le Pen salute the crowd at a National Rally event in Frejus, France
Jordan Bardella, left, and Marine Le Pen salute the crowd at a National Rally event in Frejus, FranceAP Photo

Bardella is the first person to lead the anti-immigration National Rally party who is not a member of the Le Pen family.

Marine Le Pen succeeded her father to the party leadership in 2011 before expelling him from the party in 2015 in a bid to distance it from its most radical, far-right fringe.

Le Pen, who was runner-up in the last two presidential elections, has remained party leader in parliament and is expected to make a further bid to be French head of state in 2027.

But her young successor is proving to be a major draw, attracting a younger crowd to vote for the party.

Bardella's meticulously crafted narrative has contributed to refining the image of the RN, a party once helmed by Jean-Marie Le Pen from a chateau nestled in an affluent suburb west of the capital.

He has cultivated his personality in the media, with television appearances, and has proven adroit on social media platforms — where he deploys tropes such as trending music, sound effects and ad hoc video clips which have proved fertile ground for attracting youth voters.

In his own words, he uses TikTok — where he boasts more than a million followers — as a means "to reach out to young people who are depoliticised and become politicised through social media".

The National Rally’s lead candidate for the EU elections, Jordan Bardella, campaigned for limiting the free movement of migrants by carrying out national border controls and dialling back EU climate rules.

The party no longer wants to leave the EU and the euro but aims to weaken them from within. Accused in a television debate before the elections of bringing about the end of the EU, Bardella countered, "I am not against Europe. I am against the way Europe works."

Aiming for a significant powerbroking position in Europe following the elections, Bardella has distanced his party from the German ally Alternative for Germany (AfD), declaring that it will no longer align with the faction in the European Parliament after a series of controversies.

French Far-right party National Rally president Jordan Bardella at the European Parliament, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 in Strasbourg
French Far-right party National Rally president Jordan Bardella at the European Parliament, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 in StrasbourgAP Photo

As a Eurosceptic, it is perhaps unsurprising that he appears less committed to his work in the European Parliament, where he hasn't initiated any parliamentary reports and skips three-quarters of the meetings of his parliamentary committee.

Critics accuse him of spending too much time cultivating his public image at the expense of delving into crucial political matters.

Far-left European lawmaker Manon Aubry has labelled him a "ghost parliamentarian," citing his frequent absence from the European chamber over the past five years.

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