Normalization of the extreme-right in France

Le Monde

06.02.2013

A new joint survey published by France Info, Le Monde and Canal Plus illustrates the normalisation of the Front national (FN) amongst the French. The study conducted by TNS Sofres exemplifies the change of perception about the French right-wing party over a period of 30 years in France.

The poll reveals that today 47% of respondents “don’t consider the party to pose a threat for democracy” anymore. In another poll conducted in 1990, 70% of respondents still perceived the right wing party to be of danger for French democracy.  The numbers strongly indicate to a normalisation of the FN amongst the French population. It further underlines the mainstreaming of right wing ideologies amongst conservative voters. Accordingly, 54% of UMP voters do not consider the FN to be a threat anymore. Whereas the number of adherence of FN ideals has stayed relatively equal (32%), 63% of participants however said to disagree with the overall policies of the extreme right.

The crucial role of the new leader of the Front national, Marie Le Pen, in the process of normalising and popularising right wing politics becomes evident in the following numbers: whilst in 2012 41% of respondents said that the leader of the party is the representative of “a patriotic right attached to traditional values” instead of a leader of the “an extreme nationalist and xenophobic right”, a year later, 44% participants support such views. According to Le Monde, this hasn’t been the case during the long reign of Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, over the party.

Moreover, 54% of UMP voters consider the current leader to be the representative of “a patriotic right attached to traditional values”. Left wing voters on the other hand reject to 83% the policies of the FN, amongst the Front de gauche supporters it’s even 86%.

Right wing ideas are accordingly most strongly supported by French with little or no education: 42% of workers, 34% of clerks, 41% of the rural population 36% of the rurban population and 38% of the suburban population identify with FN policies. Those who finished higher education and hold further degrees (79%) are the ones that reject right wing ideas the most including those who live in urban centres, specifically large metropolises, as well as academics (85%).

The poll illustrates how right wing politics have been normalised over several decades in France. The integration of right wing parties and policies into the spectrum of mainstream politics indicates the positive revaluation of the right wing ideology and its representatives, the FN, in French politics. No more is the right confined to a state of pariahhood, but has seemingly arrived in the centre of French politic as well as gained the status of socio-political acceptability in France.

Marine Le Pen