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Boyish but radical, Jordan Bardella is the protege Marine Le Pen was waiting for

9 22 0

The task was simple and at the same time a bit silly: in a recent French TV debate, each of the 12 leading candidates for next month’s European parliament elections was asked to bring an object that symbolised Europe for them. The conservative candidate with the Les Républicains party brought a copy of Homer’s Odyssey; the leftist politician Raphaël Glucksmann brought a piece of the Berlin wall.

Jordan Bardella, the lead candidate for Marine Le Pen’s rightwing populist National Rally, held up a red kitchen sieve to the camera. He was quite earnest as he did so, and it made for a rather absurd contrast: a young man in a suit, with his boyish face and slicked-back hair making him look not unlike a bank trainee, clutching a kitchen utensil.

Bardella may only be 23, but he has a clear understanding of how political propaganda works. “I didn’t have to think for very long: the sieve was perfect,” Bardella said two days later. “Just like that sieve, the EU lets a lot through: weapons, migrants and terrorists,” he said. “Products that endanger our health. The EU isn’t protecting us.”

On a recent Saturday morning, Bardella was sitting in his party’s local office in an industrial park outside Rennes, in Brittany. There is no sign to indicate the party has an office here – for security reasons, as the local party head insists.

Bardella had spent the previous two days with Le Pen, travelling through small towns and villages that other politicians supposedly ignore. “To the places where those who have been left behind live,” he said. The left behind, the forgotten: it’s the language of Donald Trump and the Brexiteers. It is the........

© The Guardian