France on Brink of Electing Far-Right Prime Minister, 28

Erin O'Flynn/Daily Beast
Erin O'Flynn/Daily Beast

In a shocking first round of voting for the French National Assembly, the anti-immigration National Rally party, led by Marine Le Pen, secured a decisive victory in exit polls with 34% of the vote.

The result brings the nationalist party with an anti-Semitic history closer to power than ever before, and could set the stage for Le Pen’s protege, a 28-year-old right wing leader, Jordan Bardella, to become prime minister after a second round of voting on July 7.

Frances prime minister is currently Gabriel Attal, who made history when he was appointed by Macron in January, becoming the first openly gay holder of the office. Attal, now 35, is currently the youngest head of government in the world.

Jordan Bardella looking to the left in profile

Jordan Bardella, at just 28, is on the brink of becoming France's prime minister in a triumph for Marine Le Pen's ultra-nationalist party, which was born of anti-semitism.


A Bardella victory would mark the first far-right leadership in France since the Vichy regime during WWII, a period when France, under Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval, collaborated with Nazi Germany.

The son of an Italian single mother who immigrated in the 1960s, Bardella’s anti-foreigner mantra is “France is disappearing.” Bardella says he grew up in the rough multicultural northern suburbs of Paris surrounded by drug dealers, violence and social unrest. His father–whose family immigrated from Italy and Algeria–paid for private high school and Bardella briefly enrolled at the Sorbonne, France’s most famous university, before dropping out to work in politics. Nicknamed the “lion’s cub” by his patron Le Pen, Bardella is an avid selfie taker, TikTok user, and says he chose a career in politics at age 16 after interning at a police station.

The snap election, called by Pres. Emmanuel Macron, appears to have backfired. His centrist Renaissance party garnered only 21%, trailing the left-wing New Popular Front, which secured 29%. With high voter turnout over 65%, the significance of this election is clear.

While the first round results don’t guarantee the National Rally an absolute majority in the Assembly, it is poised to become the largest force, signaling a potential shift in French politics on the eve of the Olympics in France, replacing Macron’s pro-Europe, pro-business stance with a populist, Euro-skeptic, and anti-immigration agenda.

France's president, Emmanuel Macron, looking downcast in front of a glass wall with a man to his left talking to him

If successful in the next round of voting, National Rally would dominate the legislative landscape, limiting Macron’s influence despite his presidency lasting until 2027.

Macron has vowed not to resign but would struggle to stop the implementation of nationalist policies under an arrangement known in France as “cohabitation,” where the president and the prime minister are from different parties.

The rise of the National Rally party is a new twist in a long saga which mixes family and neo-fascism. Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front party who repeatedly claimed that Nazi gas chambers were a “detail” of history.

The elder Le Pen was convicted of hate crimes and for contesting crimes against humanity, including for saying the brutal Nazi occupation of France was “not particularly inhumane.” Le Pen’s daughter expelled him from his own party in 2015. She is preparing to run for president in 2027.

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