PARIS (AP) — French far-right leader Marine Le Pen says she will stick with her strategy of making her party a more mainstream political force despite a stinging loss in France’s regional elections, and that tactic will carry her into next year’s presidential race.
Le Pen, 52, was reelected Sunday as the head of the National Rally at a party gathering in the southern town of Perpignan.
Her anti-immigration party failed to win any of mainland France’s 12 regions in last week’s vote — raising criticism about Le Pen’s strategy. Some members deplored her choice to tame the party’s extremist edge and accused her of ignoring grassroots members, warning this could cost her votes.
In her speech, Le Pen instead praised the “healthy and necessary development” of the party and said there will be no return to the National Front, the former name of the party that was changed in 2018. The rebranding was part of a broader strategy to revive the nationalist movement after her defeat by centrist Emmanuel Macron in France’s 2017 presidential race.