Graduation Year

2018

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

European Studies

Reader 1

Marc Katz

Reader 2

Cristina Nicolescu Waggonner

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2018 Ashleigh C Jones

Abstract

This paper analyzes the evolution of the Front national (FN), a French political party on the far right, from its initial breakthrough victory in 1984 all the way through to its unprecedented showing in France’s 2017 presidential election. The most obvious change it explores is that of leadership, seeking to determine in what ways the ‘original’ FN controlled by its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen (1972-2011) differs from the party’s ‘new’ incarnation under his daughter Marine Le Pen (2011-present). It begins by examining the makeup and motivations of the party’s electorate in the 1984 elections to the European Parliament, and by identifying the FN’s ideological predecessors more broadly. With a focus on the turning-point presidential elections of 2002, 2007, and 2012, the paper then follows the development of the party’s rhetoric, strategy, and supporters since the 1980s, as well as how it is perceived by the wider public. Throughout, attention is paid to unique factors that have impacted the FN’s trajectory, such as the gender difference between Jean-Marie and Marine, former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s courting of right-wing voters, and the influence of terrorism. It concludes by noting the hidden ‘victories’ that the FN has achieved, and with a warning never to underestimate the party, even when it seems to have suffered a loss.

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