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Jun 10, 2024, 11:17am EDT
Europe
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Semafor Signals

The new face of France’s far right could be the country’s next prime minister

Insights from Le Monde, France 24, the Financial Times, and Politico

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Jordan Bardella taking a selfie with a supporter.
Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters
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Jordan Bardella, the 28-year-old leader of France’s far-right National Rally party, could be the country’s next prime minister — if his party manages to repeat the victory it pulled off in the European Parliament polls at the country’s upcoming elections.

President Emmanuel Macron called the snap election after his party, Renaissance, underperformed at the bloc’s polls yesterday. The first round vote will be held on June 30.

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Macron’s decision was unexpected; Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said it was “extremely troubling,” as the country gears up to host the Olympic Games, which are set to begin in July. Macron’s announcement also negatively affected the Euro and French stock market.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Bardella’s ‘influencer’ appeal to young voters

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Sources:  
France24, Financial Times, Euronews

Jordan Bardella has had a meteoric political rise, a trajectory some call “Bardellamania.” The son of Italian immigrants, Bardella grew up in a poor Parisian neighborhood. His humble beginnings helped the National Rally shake off a reputation as out of touch — a legacy of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who helmed the party, then the National Front, from a chateau, Euronews noted. Yet Bardella’s success stems from his social-media presence (he has 1.2 million TikTok followers) and appeals to young voters. This social-first approach is now typical of far-right parties, which “use social media to project an enticing image of young, confident virility,” a professor at Oxford University told the Financial Times.

Far-right parties benefit from climate of pessimism in Europe

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Sources:  
Financial Times, Le Monde

Bardella’s rise is part of a broader right-wing wave sweeping Europe, borne on the support of populations of young voters who feel fed up and disillusioned about the future. Far-right candidates like Bardella offer them an alternative, and even a form of “rediscovered pride,” Le Monde noted. And support is growing — 36% of Gen-Z voters in France back Bardella’s party, according to Financial Times figures. National Rally speaks to “the France of the forgotten,” especially people living in more rural areas, those who are working class, or who are unemployed. But though right-wing parties are on the rise among younger voters, most still favor left-wing, more progressive options, the FT noted.

France’s election could ultimately boost Macron

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Sources:  
Katy Lee, co-host of The Europeans podcast, Politico

While Macron’s decision to call an election was seen as a risky move, some analysts suspect it could pay off. The French political system, which requires a candidate to win at least 50% of the votes to get a seat in Parliament, may make it harder for National Rally to succeed there, Katy Lee, the co-host of The Europeans political podcast, explained on X, because while the party has growing support, it will likely not win enough seats to govern. The election could also get more “mainstream voters” to turn out than those who do for a European election, potentially boosting support for Macron’s party, Lee added. Ultimately, the election could “almost certainly put a brake on Le Pen,” another analyst told Politico.

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