Posted on June 27, 2024

French Far-Right Leader Jordan Bardella Vows ‘Cultural Battle’

Leila Abboud and Ben Hall, Financial Times, June 26, 2024

Jordan Bardella, the far-right candidate to be France’s prime minister, has pledged to fight a “cultural battle” against Islamism and secure an EU budget rebate even as he promised “a lot of pragmatism” on the economy if his party wins snap elections.

The 28-year-old chief of the Rassemblement National party said in a Financial Times interview that he was confident of winning an outright majority in legislative elections, which would force president Emmanuel Macron into a “cohabitation”, or power-sharing government, with a potentially antagonistic counterpart.

“I think the French are ready for change,” said Bardella, adding that the country wanted to “break with seven years of Macronism which has been brutal in its method of governing”. He also committed to using the political “weight” of his election victory to cut France’s contributions to the EU budget by €2bn. “I want to get a rebate,” he declared.

Led by standard-bearer Marine Le Pen, the RN and their rightwing allies lead in polls with a 36 per cent vote share ahead of the two-round election on June 30 and July 7, according to Ifop. The leftwing alliance Nouveau Front Populaire is on 28.5 per cent, and Macron’s Ensemble group is on 21 per cent.

Pollsters say it is too early to make accurate seat predictions for the 577-member National Assembly. A hung parliament is the most likely scenario, but some polls indicate the RN is close to an outright majority of 289 MPs.

The party is reaping a decade-long effort by Marine Le Pen to “detoxify” the movement founded in the 1970s by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was convicted of hate speech for calling Nazi gas chambers “a detail of history”.

Bardella, who is Le Pen’s most trusted lieutenant, argues the RN is “ready to govern”. He has been scaling back the party’s big-spending economic programme in a bid to reassure jittery markets and corporate bosses.


But the RN has maintained its tough approach to immigration. Bardella said the RN aimed in the coming years to overhaul the French constitution via a referendum to establish a so-called “national preference” for citizens over foreigners for social housing and other welfare benefits.

He intends to pass a law this summer to end birthright citizenship for people born in France to foreign parents, a practice that has existed since 1515 and now requires those with foreign-born parents to officially request citizenship at age 18.

He argued France’s approach to birthright citizenship “no longer made sense” given how global conflicts, climate change, and demography would lead to “massive arrivals” of immigrants. “I intend to take back control of immigration in our country,” he said.


The RN intends to move ahead with a proposed law that states as its aim “to combat Islamist ideologies”. It includes measures to make it easier to close mosques and deport imams deemed to be radicalised, and a ban on clothing that “constitute in themselves an unequivocal and ostentatious affirmation” of Islamist ideology.