The President of the right-wing French party Rassemblement National (RN), Jordan Bardella, announced on September 3 that he would head the party’s list in the 2024 European Parliament elections.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Bardella said he would, “naturally”, lead the list. RN is part of the Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament.
Speaking of his candidature, the 27-year-old said France “has entered a period of turmoil.”
“The loss of authority in society, the pain for many French people of no longer recognising their country, the collapse of public services, the difficulty of making a living from one’s work, the effacement, as we can see, of France on the international scene, are all observations that are shared by a large majority of French people today. From this point of view, the European Union too often acts as an accelerator of this decline.”
He said he wanted his party to be a “beacon of hope and a force for change” and that he aimed to prove that a different policy is possible, adding that the “greatness of France” and the “happiness of the French people” are achievable goals.
Bardella became acting RN president after Marine Le Pen resigned the party leadership role to launch her own presidential campaign in the 2022 French elections.
In November 2022, Bardella was voted RN president, the first president who was not a member of the Le Pen family. He remains close to them, though, as he is in a relationship with Nolwenn Olivier, the daughter of RN MEP Philippe Olivier and Marie-Caroline Le Pen, Marine’s sister.
Insiders point out that Bardella will lead the RN in Europe as part of the ID group, while Marine Le Pen will lead RN in the French Parliament, thus avoiding crossover.
In the 2019 European Parliament elections, Bardella led the list and garnered 23.3 per cent of the vote, despite being described as “a puppet of Le Pen” in the French press and regarded as too inexperienced.
Despite that, Bardella, then 23, became the second-youngest MEP in European Union history after Ilka Schröder of Germany, who had been elected at the age of 21 in 1999.
He comes from a modest family of Italian origin and grew up in Drancy, Seine-Saint-Denis, in North-East Paris and referred to as a banlieue, or economically deprived suburb, and which has a large population of migrant descent.
Il est de ma responsabilité de mener cette bataille : je suis candidat aux élections européennes 2024.
Contrairement à ce qu'ils croient, nous n'avons pas fini d'être français !
— Jordan Bardella (@J_Bardella) September 3, 2023
Other French parties that have chosen a prime candidate for Europe include the Greens, which has put forward Marie Toussaint, and the Communists, who chose Léon Deffontaines.
Current French President Emmanuel Macron has not made a formal decision yet, nor has the La France Insoumise party.