France’s far-right leader Jordan Bardella has rejected accusations in a television report to be broadcast on Thursday 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 shown on the France 2 channel on Thursday evening, a copy of which AFP obtained and watched. According to “three people who used to be close to him”, the report says, 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). One 2017 post from the “RepNat du Gaito” account includes 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. In the France 2 report, Eric Richermoz, presented as a former acquaintance of Bardella in a tiny group within the RN called the Republican Nationalists (NatRep), is shown saying Bardella had a fake account when he was younger, but does not point to a specific username. – ‘The real question’ – 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 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. Marine Le Pen is widely expected to run in the 2027 presidential elections and seek to make Bardella prime minister if she wins. In the report, Le Pen tells France 2 her protege has the qualities to lead a government. “He even has qualities for something else. That’s the real question that I will have to ask myself when the time comes,” she adds, without elaborating. 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 start of Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term actually looks like the end of his reign,” Bardella tells followers at an undated weekly party meeting in the France 2 report. “The question is no longer will we be in power, but when.” The RN looks set to top the vote in June’s European Parliament election.