far-right observer

Favorable times for Rassemblement National

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In a recent conversation with a French childhood friend, she confessed me that in the next 2022 election she was going to vote for the leader of Rassemblement National (RN), Marine Le Pen. I was shocked. It was one of the first times that somebody so close to me decided to vote for a far-right political party. Moreover, I could not understand how a woman could vote for such traditionalistic policies. When I got home, I could not stop thinking about what she told me, and I asked myself the reasons that led her to vote for that party. Stop for a minute to think about it. I am sure that, like me that night, several reasons come to your mind to explain the spectacular success of the RN. Those factors have managed to capture the attention of those French “forgotten by the system” and that have seen in RN the change that France needed. But what are those main factors and how have they led French voters to vote for RN?

Factors that have contributed to the success of RN

In one way or another, we have all been affected by the 2008 crisis. The endless lines of people without resources who needed to go to food banks to eat something and the historically high unemployment rates are still present in people’s minds. During this hard period, French citizens felt that their government was incapable of taking decisive and effective measures to improve their situation. Therefore, they saw that RN had that authoritarian point that was needed to lead a country. Furthermore, during the 2008 crisis, its left-wing economic policies were very attractive for most vulnerable social classes, namely the French middle class, constituting constituted a large part of their electorate. 

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Moreover, the 2008 financial crisis happened in parallel to the migration crisis. France has been one of the European countries that hosted a larger number of immigrants, and this created a feeling of hate towards those people. Many French voters perceived this massive arrival of “foreigners” as a threat to their jobs and did not understand why the money paid with their taxes should be spent on them. These French citizens are the losers from globalization who perceive everything foreign as bad. For this reason, the harsh anti-migratory policies of RN have been the best solution for many French citizens. The hate towards immigration was also fueled by the terrorist attacks of 2015 that led many French citizens to desire the abolishment of Islam and its culture from France.

Furthermore, the role of the mainstream political parties in the success of RN should not be underestimated. They have greatly helped to normalize the ideas of far-right parties that in the past seemed too extremist, especially in matters related to immigration, authoritarianism, and nationalism. The aim of French mainstream political parties leaders was to recover those voters that decided to go towards the extreme. This was perceived when Sarkozy adopted a more authoritarian and nationalistic direction, especially on matters such as Islam, and the law and order. Even though he had great success in the 2007 elections, in 2012 this technique no longer enabled him to win the elections, and in the 2017 elections, his party did not even reach the second presidential round.

Mainstreaming as the main cause

We can see how various factors have contributed to the success of RN in recent years. Focusing only on one reason to explain this phenomenon would be ridiculous. It has been the mix of the economic consequences of the financial crisis, the massive arrival of immigrants, and the normalization of their ideas that have led the French population to vote for this party. Therefore, all these reasons must be analyzed as a whole to explain why the last few years have been favorable times for this far-right boom. However, there is a factor that, in my opinion, has been decisive to make people to take the initiative to vote for this party.  

The leaders of mainstream political have trivialized the extremist ideas of those kind of political parties and their response towards their rise has not been adequate. When RN was born, initially called Front National, mainstream political parties had the future of this party in their hands and they lost the opportunity to nip that phenomenon. There is no evidence that a strong “cordon sanitaire” was made to isolate this party. They prioritized the electoral support and the short-term responses. In fact, the adoption of extremist ideas such as the hate of Islam and the recovery of the French essence by mainstream political parties has made that in the short term, this technique helped politicians to have electoral success. Nonetheless, the long-term consequences have caused that far-right parties have gained an incredible support, not only in France, but all-around Europe because their ideas no more seem too radical. The believe that these simplistic ideas can be the best solution for complex problems is becoming more and more prevalent in society. I firmly belive that the  rise of RN could have been avoided, or at least softened,  if French politicians would have been able to carry out a strong defense against this phenomenon. However, political parties decided to downplay the threat them. 

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14 thoughts on “Favorable times for Rassemblement National

  1. This is a good start, we just have a few recommendations. At the moment, the article is a bit too descriptive. It is not clear where you position yourself in the debate and what the post will actually touch upon. Is it just the causes behind the success of Rassemblement National? If so, maybe you could make it more visible already from the title. A possibility could then be: “What caused the success of Front National?”. Let us know what you think about it!

    1. Thank you very much for your feedback! I have changed my article in order to show more by point of view about the matter and I hope that now my position is more clear. I have also changed my title to make it more attractive and to better represent the main topic of this post. I really hope you like it more now!

      1. We’re glad that you appreciated our advices! We can definitely see the positive development and we really like it. As an only and last suggestion, we recommend making the sub-headings slightly bigger. Otherwise we enjoyed reading it!

  2. That is a great blog post! We found your topic of research pretty interesting and rather clear in its formulation. Your introduction is very catchy thanks to your very relevant anecdote. Also, you clearly position yourself in the debate. However, we are missing hyperlinks backing your arguments. Images could also be added throughout the post (although the image at the top is well-chosen). Moreover, your headings could be more explicit and precise. We highly appreciated that you investigate the role of mainstream parties in the rise of the Front National, today Rassemblement National. We would like to recommend you a book written in the 1990s on the early developments of the Front National, and on how traditional parties (especially Mitterrand’s Socialist Party) favoured the rise of FN, for various reasons. The book is called “La Main droite de Dieu. Enquête sur François Mitterrand et l’extrême droite”, by Faux, Legrand and Perez. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you for your comment and for the book recommendation! I will definitely have a look at it. I have changed my post taking into account your suggestions and I hope you will like the changes made. I still struggling a bit on the subheadings part but I will find a way to change them. Your feedback has been very useful so far. Thank you!

      1. We are glad to see that our suggestions were useful! We noticed that you added some hyperlinks, but we still lack those in the two final paragraphs. You could maybe also add another image in the “Mainstreaming as the main cause” section. Good luck with the completion of your post!

  3. Hi! Congratulations on this blog entry! Very interesting indeed. We especially like the way that you start with an anecdote! This is something we have not yet seen in any other blogs and it makes your introduction very intriguing. Furthermore, we enjoyed reading your own positioning in the final paragraphs, however, we believe this can be formulated a bit more clearly. Furthermore, although you are positioning yourself, this sometimes was not very clear. Maybe try to position yourself more explicitly, for example, by using a separate subheading? Or already giving a hint to your focus on the role of mainstream parties earlier on? We believe the first subheading could also be rephrased to make it a bit more catchy. Furthermore, we would advise against starting a new section, under a new subheading, with the word “therefore”. We would also advise you to let someone proofread your draft as there were a few language mistakes and several sentences that could be rephrased to make them more pleasant to read. Finally, we would like to suggest adding one more picture and to remind you not to forget the hyperlinks! Overall, very enjoyable read which broadened my knowledge, especially regarding the role of mainstream parties!

    1. Hey! Thank you a lot for your very constructive feedback it has helped me a lot to improve my post. I have tried to include all the suggestions that you have made even though I still struggling with how to improve some parts. I will definitely include more pictures and hyperlinks. Thank you!

      1. Hi! We are happy to hear you found the feedback helpful and were even able to implement it! We already like the way you have edited your blog. Good job! Maybe one more picture would truly make this an excellent blog!

  4. Very enjoyable blog post!! We especially liked your usage of language. We found the tone you chose very good. It is easy to understand and follow however, sometimes there are some spelling mistakes so please keep an eye out on that. Also, some hyperlinks would be good in order to have access to the sources used. Overall, the blog post is already very good and very well written and only needs some minor adjustments. Good work!!

    1. Hey, thank you very much. I am really happy that you liked my post and I will definitely add hyperlinks as soon as possible. Thank you a lot!

  5. Hi! I can really tell that this is a polished final version of the post. It has a very clear structure and it is very easy to read. It feels like you touch upon the most relevant subjects regarding the rise of FN. Overall, I really enjoy this post and believe that it is very well done!

    1. Hey, I am glad that you liked my post and that it helped you to understand better the success of RN. Thank you very much!

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