France's far-right National Front named founder Jean-Marie Le Pen's daughter Marine its new leader on Sunday, looking to soften the anti-immigrant party's image before next year's presidential polls.
While sharing many of her father's hardline views, the 42-year-old blonde brings with her a softer, more telegenic image which the party hopes will give it an electoral breakthrough against President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Polls suggest 17 per cent of French voters might back Ms. Marine, not enough to put her in the Elysee Palace in 2012, but enough of a threat to incumbent right-winger Sarkozy to force her agenda into the political debate.
“I consider us as of now to be in an electoral campaign, first for the cantonal elections [local polls in March], and then of course presidential and legislative ones,” she said in televised comments after being named.
The Euro-MP and National Front deputy leader becomes head of one of Western Europe's most enduringly influential anti-immigrant movements. Her 82-year-old father founded the party in 1972 and led it until his retirement on Saturday. — AFP