ArticlePublisher preview available

The Front national under Marine Le Pen: a mainstream political party?

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


The Front national has experienced such an increase in popularity under the leadership since 2011 of Marine Le Pen that some commentators have suggested the FN is now politically mainstream and question the validity of continuing to represent the party as ideologically extreme. This paper argues that although the party remains ideologically extreme, this does not prevent it from forming part of the political mainstream because it is perfectly concomitant with some form of French republicanism, specifically the national republicanism which has become hegemonic in recent decades. To more effectively combat the FN one must both recognise this and at the same time articulate an alternative, much more inclusivist vision of the French Republic, one leaving no space for the vision of the Republic articulated by the FN.
The Front national under Marine Le Pen: a mainstream
political party?
Steve Bastow
Published online: 4 December 2017
Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017
Abstract The Front national has experienced such an increase in popularity under
the leadership since 2011 of Marine Le Pen that some commentators have suggested
the FN is now politically mainstream and question the validity of continuing to
represent the party as ideologically extreme. This paper argues that although the
party remains ideologically extreme, this does not prevent it from forming part of
the political mainstream because it is perfectly concomitant with some form of
French republicanism, specifically the national republicanism which has become
hegemonic in recent decades. To more effectively combat the FN one must both
recognise this and at the same time articulate an alternative, much more inclusivist
vision of the French Republic, one leaving no space for the vision of the Republic
articulated by the FN.
Keywords Front national Marine Le Pen Radical right Republicanism
In 2011, Marine Le Pen (henceforth MLP) was elected leader of the FN, replacing
her father. Just over a year later, on 22 April 2012, she scored 17.9% of the vote in
the French presidential election, coming third in the vote behind Hollande (28.6%)
and Sarkozy (27.2%). This was better than the highest score ever achieved by her
I would like to thank Professor Nick Harrison of Kings College London, my colleague Dr Radu Cinpoes,
and two anonymous reviewers for French Politics for their insightful comments which have informed the
preparation of this article.
&Steve Bastow
Department of Politics, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston KT1 2EE, UK
Fr Polit (2018) 16:19–37
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... But while the radical right was becoming a relevant and sometimes even a significant factor of party politics, it has become increasingly difficult to trace back the socio-political exclusion of migrants, the violence against ethnic or sexual minorities, the spread of xenophobic ideas or even the challenges to the current institutional framework to the words or actions of these political forces. It is perhaps precisely as radical right parties have become 'mainstream' parties de façade -which are increasingly successful at attracting large parts of the electorate -that their 'original sins' have vanished (Bastow 2018;Mayer 2018). The inclusion of populist parties in the political game and their increasingly strong position at the crux of the electoral competition have significant consequences for their development and identity. ...
... Our main working hypothesis is developed around the basic idea that leadership changes affect party organization (Harmel and Janda 1994). In line with the established interpretations of the FN/RN over the past two decades (Bastow 2018;Mondon 2016), the aim of this chapter is to evaluate the shift that has allegedly occurred since Marine Le Pen took over the party (Shields 2011(Shields , 2013. This work is guided by the premise that there are notable variations in the threat posed by populist parties and that its severity can be explored empirically. ...
... We suggest that this is a most-likely case for two main reasons. First, the state has an increasingly popular national RRP, The FN, which has steadily increased support in both local and national elections for the past twenty years (Auberger, 2008;Stockemer, 2014Stockemer, , 2019Stockemer and Amengay, 2015;Zaretsky, 2016;Almeida, 2017;Buhr, 2017;Dumitrescu, 2017;Bastow, 2018). 3 Second, the 2017 election was unique for France because, due to scandals involving the major center-right candidate, Francois Fillon, the second round of the election came down to a newcomer party and FN. ...
Full-text available
European political parties, particularly radical right parties (RRPs), increasingly use religious symbols during elections. Despite the prevalence of these symbols, evidence on the association between religion and far-right vote share is mixed. We compare two leading arguments explaining the relationship between religion and RRPs. We hypothesize that the number of religious buildings, identifiable as Islamic or Catholic, will be associated with higher RRP support. We test this as a most likely crucial case using results from the French 2017 presidential election. Controlling for other demographic factors, more Catholic buildings in a commune are associated with a decrease in votes for the Front Nationale ( FN ). An increase in the number of mosques in non-urban communes is associated with increased support for FN . We argue these findings are evidence that RRPs use religious symbolism to draw on nativist or anti-Islamic support rather than traditional religious support.
... In the early days of the "crisis" (August-September 2015) we saw on the one hand the willkommenskultur [1] represented by images of volunteers expressing solidarity and embracing the arrival of refugees in Germany IJSSP (Jurgens, 2021). On the other hand we later observed the public demonstrations of far-right movements expressing deeply anti-refugee and anti-migrant rhetoric from the Seine to the Danube (Bastow, 2018;Bocskor, 2018) which when fused with Euroscepticism can generate electoral implications (Pirro et al., 2018). Therefore, not all European governments responded to the emergent refugee situation in the same way (Rea et al., 2019). ...
In this article focused upon the UK context, we sought to better understand how political elites shaped public debate to reinforce rather than challenge the hostile policy environment for those seeking asylum. We undertook a political claims analysis (Koopmans and Statham, 1999) focusing on a venue that has been pivotal in shaping the discourse around asylum issues in the UK, namely the print media. Our work adopts a theoretical frame informed by the work of Stuart Hall to uncover the extent to which debates on asylum during the key period of the refugee emergency in Europe were shaped by political elites. Our findings reveal the extent to which political elites acted as ‘primary definers’ of the ‘crisis’ and utilised that position to cast those arriving in Europe as a threat to be managed. Our research offers a contemporary worked example of political claims analysis in a topical subject area that colleagues across disciplines and contexts may find informative for their own research agendas.
... That has been the case with Marine Le Pen and her National Rally (formerly the National Front). The French politician, after succeeding her father Jean-Marie Le Pen as the party's leader in 2007, has considerably toned down the party's discourse and brought it closer to a mainstream party, which resulted in a rise in their position and electoral support (Bastow 2018;Mondon 2014;Almeida 2013). It remains to be seen whether Confederation follows that path or it retains the position of a controversial Polish third-party. ...
Full-text available
The article combines methods pertaining to Rhetorical Genre Studies and Discourse-Historical Approach in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of Krzysztof Bosak’s nomination acceptance speech which he delivered during the 2020 Confederation presidential primaries. The discussed genre of political speech is rarely realized in European contexts. Given various differences between the American and the Polish political systems, Bosak did not follow every pattern of the standard variant of the genre. Rather his speech appears to be more similar to a nomination acceptance speech of a third-party candidate. Overall, Bosak emerged as the leader of a divided and heterogeneous party, which was not given much attention by mainstream media. The paper investigates how these factors contributed to the structure and content of the speech. Moreover, recent decades have seen a rapid rise in significance of (far) right-wing movements in Europe. As Confederation is a relatively new political formation, there is a gap in research regarding the properties of its discourse. Thus, the present paper compares the discourse of the coalition with practices of politics of fear (Wodak, 2021).
... Sin embargo, no es hasta los años 70 cuando a Jean-Marie Le Pen le empieza a preocupar la inmigración pues, hasta entonces, concentraba sus temores en la «amenaza social-comunista» (Reggiani, 2017: 76). Bajo el liderazgo de Marine Le Pen, transitando hacia lo mainstream (Bastow, 2018), la derecha radical francesa abandona sus postulados sociales más conservadores y prioriza la «retórica antiinmigrante», cambiando ahora el «racismo antiárabe» por la «defensa del laicismo» y el «antisemitismo por un discurso islamófobo» (Reggiani, 2017: 81). El cambio en el marco de tratamiento de la inmigración se produce simultáneamente al acentuamiento de la vertiente populista del partido, utilizando para ello el llamado «chovinismo del bienestar», un liderazgo carismático, una retórica emocional y un intenso trasfondo antielitista (Stockemer y Barisione, 2017: 12). ...
Full-text available
El presente artículo compara la identificación, construcción y caracterización del enemigo político discursivo de cuatro de los principales partidos de la derecha radical europea (La Liga, AfD, Rassemblement National y VOX). Se trata de un estudio de enfoque comparado y metodología de investigación cualitativa que ha usado como fuentes de información un total de 20 spots electorales (cinco para cada uno de los partidos) a los que se les ha aplicado un análisis de contenido cualitativo (ACC). Los principales hallazgos evidencian que el enemigo común en todos los partidos es la inmigración, a la que le sigue la Unión Europea (a excepción del caso de VOX) y que la principal diferenciación entre los partidos es el posicionamiento ante el feminismo y la política posmaterialista: VOX (fundamentalmente) y AfD los identifican como enemigos, el resto no.
Full-text available
z Bu makale, Fransız siyasetinin en önemli aktörleri arasında yer alan Ulusal Cephe'nin (FN) tarihsel evrimini eleştirel bakış açısıyla analiz etmeyi amaçlamaktadır. Günümüzde Batı Avrupa'daki en güçlü aşırı sağ parti konumunda bulunan FN, uzun yıllar boyunca karantina hattı uygulamasıyla karşı karşıya kalmasına rağmen ulusal siyaset ve kamusal söylem üzerinde etkili oldu. Araştırma, spesifik olarak bu başarının nedenlerine yoğunlaşmaktadır. Bu kapsamda göç, Avrupa entegrasyonu ve ulusal ekonomi başta olmak üzere FN'nin yükselişine zemin hazırlayan koşullar kapsamlı biçimde ele alınmaktadır. Aynı zamanda çalışma kapsamında 2011'de yaşanan lider değişimi sonrasında partinin ana akımlaşmasına yol açan nedenler tartışılmaktadır. Ana akım aktörlerin toplumsal taleplere yanıt vermemesi ile aşırı sağ söylemin ana akımlaşmasının FN'nin başarısında belirleyici olduğu savunulmaktadır.
Full-text available
This article seeks to examine how the issue of terrorism has been framed by Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. Marine Le Pen has been eager to exploit these incidents since they fit neatly within her xenophobic and nationalist discourse. On the other hand, Emmanuel Macron seeks to transcend traditional political boundaries and foster unity. These different strategies in framing terrorism will be the focus of this article. In addition, the article will examine whether there are elements of populist contagion in Macron’s framing. The analysis is centred around two terrorist events that occurred in 2020: (1) Samuel Paty’s murder and (2) the Nice knife attack. The data were collected from the Twitter accounts of Le Pen and Macron and analysed via the latent Dirichlet allocation generative statistical model. The result is an in-depth analysis that showcases the different framing strategies of the two case studies regarding terrorism.
The 2022 French Presidential elections produced a re-run of the 2017 contest with Marine Le Pen and Emanuel Macron in a head-to-head run-off in the second round with the Radical Right, Rassemblement National (RN) challenger unable to defeat the incumbent President. At the subsequent Parliamentary elections, the RN made a significant breakthrough, piercing the so-called ‘plafond de verre’ (‘Glass Ceiling’), obtaining 89 seats, a tenfold increase compared to 2017. The article analyses the causes of this breakthrough by concentrating predominantly on the ‘external supply-side’ conditions created by the RN under Marine Le Pen’s leadership during the Macron presidency and in the 2022 election campaigns. It also focuses on Le Pen’s responses to the significant internal challenges faced within the party and subsequently from Far-Right contender Eric Zemmour during the campaign. The article concludes that the ‘supply-side’ responses emanating from Le Pen and the RN are crucial to a holistic understanding of the party’s ability to crack the ‘plafond de verre’ at the 2022 Parliamentary elections.
Full-text available
Front National och Sverigedemokraterna är två partier som uppnått framstående valframgångar. Flera studier har redan gjorts om Front National och Sverigedemokraternas ideologi, om att förstå partiernas normaliseringsprocess och hur valframgångarna förklaras. Vad jag ämnar bidra med är en ingående komparativ analys av Front National och Sverigedemokraternas normaliseringsprocess. Således är syftet med mitt arbete att studera Front National och Sverigedemokraternas normaliseringsprocess över tid i relation till tre partiprogram. Forskningsfrågorna lyder på följande vis: I vilken utsträckning refererar Front National och Sverigedemokraterna till etniskt och medborgerligt nationalistiska idéer i partiprogrammen? Vilka likheter och skillnader går att genomskåda i partiernas utveckling? Metoden jag använder är en textanalys i form av en beskrivande idéanalys av tre partiprogram för vardera politiska parti. För Sverigedemokraterna granskar jag partiprogrammen från år 1989, 2005 och 2018 och för Front National år 2002, 2007 och 2017. Sammanfattningsvis kommer jag fram till att normaliseringsprocessen ser relativt lik ut även om den på detaljnivå skiljer sig åt mellan partierna. Front National och Sverigedemokraterna har båda gått från en påtaglig etnonationalism till att ha infört medborgerligt nationalistiska inslag som nyanserar den ursprungliga etnonationalistiska positionen.
Full-text available
Moment Dergi’nin Erkeklikler 1 sayısına hoş geldiniz. Erkeklikler, ataerkillik ve cinsiyetçiliğin her an birbiri ardına dizilen tezahürleriyle kuşatılmış günümüz dünyasının en yakıcı konularından biri. Bir önceki sayıdan bu yana Türkiye, İstanbul Sözleşmesi’nin feshedilmesi, sayısı daha da artan kadına şiddet vakaları ve kadın haklarına yönelik saldırılar gibi haberlerle sarsıldı. Ataerkil erkekliğin hegemonyası kadınlar, çocuklar, heteronormativiteyi aşındıran, “suç ortaklığını” reddeden tüm cinsiyet kimlikleri ve tüm “ötekiler” için bir baskı, şiddet ve tehdit unsuru olmayı sürdürüyor. Mevcut toplumsal cinsiyet eşitsizlikleri, her dönem farklı saiklerle derinleşiyor; pandemi sürecinde yükselişe geçen ev-içi şiddet vakalarında görüldüğü gibi. Bu koşullar altında, Moment Dergi’nin “erkeklikler” sayısı için yapmış olduğumuz çağrıya beklediğimizden çok sayıda yazı geldi. Erkekler ve erkeklikler üzerine Türkiye’de eleştirel tartışmaların çoğaldığını ve zenginleştiğini görmek sevindirici. Yayınlamak üzere değerlendirmeye aldığımız nitelikli yazıların çokluğu nedeniyle, “erkeklikler” temasını iki sayı halinde yayınlamaya karar verdik. Erkeklikler 2 temalı sayımız da Aralık’ta yayınlanacak. Welcome to Moment Journal’s issue “Masculinities 1”. Masculinities is one of the most incendiary subjects of the world today which is besieged by manifestations of patriarchy and heterosexism lining up day by day. Since the previous issue, Turkey has been shaken by the news of the denouncement of the Istanbul Convention, the growing numbers of violence against women, and a rampage against the rights of women. The hegemony of patriarchal masculinity maintains to be an element of repression, violence, and intimidation against women, children, and all the gender identities and “others” who corrode heteronormativity and refuse “complicity”. Existing gender inequalities intensify in every period with varying motives; as seen in the rising acts of domestic violence during the pandemic period. The call we had made for Moment Journal’s masculinities issue has met with more submissions than expected under these circumstances. It is pleasing to see an increase in the inquiries on men and masculinities in Turkey. Therefore, we have decided to publish the theme of “masculinities” under two issues due to the abundance of eligible submissions. The issue Masculinities 2 will be published in December.
En 40 ans, le Front national a changé. Il a engagé une profonde transformation avec l’arrivée de Marine Le Pen à la tête du parti, en 2011. Son travail programmatique est plus systématique et ambitieux. Servi par un contexte de crise financière majeure et par l’usure de la droite de gouvernement, le FN espère absorber une part déterminante de la droite française.
English version:
Introduction : L’électorat du Front national progresse, mais évolue peu : très à droite au plan idéologique, il recrute davantage dans les milieux populaires et peu instruits. Phénomène nouveau, il perce aussi dans la fonction publique, chez les catholiques, dans les tranches d’âge intermédiaires, et tend à se féminiser.
This article analyses late 19th-century French liberal socialist syntheses of liberty and equality, building on the existing body of literature on liberal socialism to illustrate the influence of the non-Marxist left on its development through a focus on the work of the Radical, Célestin Bouglé, and the Socialists, Benoît Malon and Charles Andler. The analysis of these thinkers demonstrates the ideological similarities of liberal socialisms of thinkers hailing from both the non-Marxist left and the new liberalism. A concluding section suggests that liberal socialism offers social democrats and progressive liberals an ideological heritage from which to pose a radical alternative to contemporary forms of neoliberalism.