Nick Griffin has signalled his intention to quit as British National Party leader after the party conceded it suffered a "bloody nose" at the hands of voters this month.
The far-right MEP, who was soundly defeated in his own bid to become an MP on a disastrous night for the party at the ballot box, said he would go by the end of 2013.
He told a post-poll strategy meeting that the timing was to allow him to complete work on the party's administrative and political machine before handing over to a younger successor with less "baggage" and concentrating on being re-elected to the European Parliament in 2014.
But the move is bound to be seen as an attempt to forestall any leadership challenge in the the wake of the poor showing.
Mr Griffin was beaten into third place, 18,000 votes behind winners Labour, in Barking, east London, where the party was also wiped out in local council elections, losing all of its 12 seats.
Nationwide, the party failed to win a single Commons seat despite fielding more than 300 candidates and could only increase its overall vote by 1.83% to 514,819.
And its number of council seats was more than halved to 19, with 27 of the 29 up for re-election on May 6 losing their places.
It came despite a year of increased national exposure thanks to Mr Griffin and colleague Andrew Brons being elected to serve as MEPs and the leader's appearance on BBC's Question Time.
Mr Griffin's announcement was made during the weekend conference in the Midlands and announced on the party's website - which claimed membership was rising "several hundred" a month.
"By then I would have been leader of the BNP for 15 years and that is long enough," he said.
"It will be time to make way for a younger person who does not have any baggage which can be used against the party."
It would take him at least 18 months to put in place the final "building blocks" of the party machine, he said, before handing on to someone able to "drive support up to where it can be a serious contender for power".
The party said its election-fighting machine would be "revolutionised".
"The 'bloody nose' which the party received in the local elections has provided the BNP with an insight into how the Labour Party has switched to a technologically-intensive campaigning methodology, and the lessons have been learned," the party said.Reuse content