Report alleges France’s far-right leader had racist Twitter account

Jordan Bardella has rejected the accusations – Copyright AFP Sam Yeh

France’s far-right leader Jordan Bardella on Thursday rejected accusations in a television report that he used an anonymous Twitter account to share racist messages when he was a local elected official.

The allegations against the 28-year-old president of the National Rally (RN) party were made in an investigative report to be broadcast on the France 2 channel on Thursday evening, a copy of which AFP obtained and watched.

In the report, four sources — three of which are anonymous — claim that from 2015 to 2017, Bardella used the pseudonym “RepNat du Gaito” on Twitter, now X, to share racist messages and celebrate Jean-Marie Le Pen, co-founder of the RN’s ancestor party the National Front (FN).

The last post of that account, dated February 2017, is an obscene image mocking Theo Luhaka, a young black man who suffered severe anal injuries from a police baton that year, in an assault for which three policemen are now on trial.

Bardella in the report denied this, telling France 2: “I am sorry to disappoint you but I only have one Twitter account. I will not stand by comments I did not make.”

RN spokesman Victor Chabert on Wednesday defended Bardella on X, in a reply to a France 2 journalist who posted part of the report on the controversial Twitter posts to promote it.

“You will be prosecuted and a formal notice has been sent to France Televisions,” the group that owns France 2, Chabert wrote.

A source close to the RN told AFP that an ex-assistant of Florian Philippot, a former vice-president of the RN who has since left the party, was the person behind the “RepNat du Gaito” Twitter handle.

Bardella was formally elected to lead the RN in 2022, replacing three-time presidential candidate Marine Le Pen after more than a decade at the head of the party.

He has also been a member of the European Parliament since 2019.

Le Pen, who is widely expected to run in the 2027 presidential elections and seek to make Bardella prime minister if she wins — has long sought to distance herself from the openly racist and anti-Semitic reputation of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Bardella too likes to emphasise that he is from a new generation of nationalists with little in common with Jean-Marie Le Pen.

President Emmanuel Macron — who beat Le Pen in 2017 and 2022 — in a rare press conference on Tuesday adopted some of the far right’s themes in an apparent bid to stem the RN’s rising popularity.

The RN looks set to top the vote in June’s European Parliament election.

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