PARIS (Reuters) - After much hesitation, France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen said on Tuesday she would stand in regional elections in December, a move that will test her popularity before the 2017 presidential vote.
Supporters have said the campaign could help her move on from months of very public family feuding that led her to push her father Jean-Marie Le Pen out of the National Front party he founded four decades ago.
An OpinionWay poll on Monday saw her party taking control of the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional assembly if she decided to lead the party's ticket there. But a weak performance could undermine her presidential bid.
"I hesitated because there were two electoral campaigns that were colliding, the regional and presidential votes," Marine Le Pen told iTELE.
The 46-year old, who has tried to make the anti-immigration party more palatable to mainstream voters, said on Tuesday she had decided to stand "to protect the people of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, who have been neglected by the Socialist majority".
Opinion polls see her making it to the second round of the presidential election but not winning it.
Her 25-year old niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, announced in May she would stand in regional elections in the south after Jean-Marie Le Pen promised not to disrupt her ticket.
(Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Heavens)