Since the European elections, Jordan Bardella has added a decorative element to his office, which he shows off in his social media videos: American street artist Obey’s depiction of Marianne. It also happens to be Emmanuel Macron’s favorite work, and it decorates his office at the Elysée. With increasingly subtle touches, would-be prime minister Bardella is sending signals to the Macronist electorate, whom he has always been convinced he can win over, at least in part. In his televised debate with Valérie Hayer on May 2, during the European election campaign, the talk show Quotidien picked up on how he used several phrases identical to those used by Emmanuel Macron in his 2017 debate against Bardella’s mentor, Marine Le Pen.

But the desire to mimic the Macron of 2017 doesn’t stop there. Like the president, Bardella considers political parties to be an outdated form of government, has a frank admiration for CEOs and captains of industry, and has tried to forge a technophile identity for himself − although without taking a serious look at the subject. The young leader of the Rassemblement National (RN) claims, in all seriousness and without denying his obsession with identity, to be a “candidate of reason in the face of extremes,” while representing a political program that calls into question fundamental aspects of the rule of law, European treaties and balanced budgets.

Above all, he seems to be borrowing more and more from Macron’s economic policy: lower taxes, simplification of industrial norms. Their only real marker of economic disagreement − the repeal of the pension reform passed by Macron’s government − seems to be disappearing by the day. Bardella said so much in the Financial Times, in an article about him on June 26 in which he laid out his economic plan.

The shift owes nothing to chance. It’s the result of the great upheaval that the right and far right have undergone over the last 15 years, since Le Pen’s arrival on the political scene: The mainstream right, under pressure from the rise of the Front National, then the RN, has increasingly aligned itself with the security and anti-immigration proposals of the Le Pen dynasty. The RN has held onto its populism, as a way of differentiating itself from the “old right,” seen as elitist and out of touch. This is Le Pen’s trademark. Without ever questioning the capitalist system, Bardella has criticized “globalism,” in particular freedom of movement and foreign multinationals.

A malleable political family

Except that the balance of power has shifted. Top of the polls since 2022, the RN can now envisage actually coming to power. It needs to reassure the traditional right-wing electorate and business leaders. In short, to gain credibility, Bardella’s RN is making numerous concessions to the right on economic and social issues. The only thing left untouched is the anti-immigration foundation, which is unchanging.

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