Marine Le Pen said to be new leader of the French National Front Party

France’s far right National Front has chosen Marine Le Pen as its new leader, replacing her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, party officials say. The results will be officially announced on January 16, but party sources said she had secured about two-thirds of members’ votes. Mr Le Pen is stepping down after leading the ultra-nationalist party, which he founded, for almost 40 years.

The FN, with its anti-immigration agenda has been shunned by France’s main parties. But Ms Le Pen has said she wants to break with its xenophobic, anti-Islam image and is confident the FN can become part of mainstream politics. A recent poll suggested the party could come third in the presidential elections to be held in 2012.