France's National Front is expected to widen its support base if Marine Le Pen (left) is chosen to succeed her father as the party's new leader this weekend, posing a threat to President Nicolas Sarkozy, writes Henry Samuel.
The mother of three (42) is the clear favourite to succeed her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen (82), who founded the National Front in 1972 and will remain its honorary president.
Last night, votes were counted from a mail ballot of its 24,000 members and the official result is due to be announced tomorrow.
Mr Le Pen was in no doubt of the outcome.
"I have been unable to enact the programme that I believe salutatory for France -- the second stage of the Le Pen rocket is Marine," he told 'Le Parisien'.
She is up against Bruno Gollnisch (60), an MEP who represents the party old guard, and whose supporters include ex-colonialists, anti-Semites and white supremacists.
Ms Le Pen has promised to use any win as a spring-board for the presidential election next year.
A poll yesterday suggested she might come third, garnering up to 20pc of the vote. (© Daily Telegraph, London)