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1 - THE NICHE PARTY PHENOMENON

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 July 2009

Bonnie M. Meguid
Affiliation:
University of Rochester, New York
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Summary

Running under the slogan “defend the French,” a new political party known as the Front National (FN) first fielded candidates in the 1973 French national legislative elections. Over the next three decades, the FN, fearful of the contamination and erosion of the French national identity, advocated a ban on further immigration and called for the (forced) repatriation of immigrants and the restoration of traditional French family values. Initially, the FN's promotion of this new set of issues was met with little electoral enthusiasm; in its first decade of existence, the party received less than 1 percent of the national vote per legislative election. Its charismatic leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, also fared poorly, capturing a mere 0.7 percent in the 1974 presidential election.

Although political observers and scholars at the time discounted the prospects of this minor party – especially in an electoral environment thought to disadvantage nonmainstream parties – the FN emerged as one of the strongest radical right parties in Western Europe by 2000. Even though large-scale immigration to France had been banned officially since 1974 and the percentage of foreign citizens had been stabilizing and even falling, the anti-immigrant FN won an average of more than 9 percent of the vote across national legislative elections in the 1980s and 1990s and ended the millennium with a peak vote of 14.9 percent in 1997. Once on the margins of the French political scene, the Front National would surpass the Communist Party to become the number three party in France.

Type
Chapter
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Party Competition between Unequals
Strategies and Electoral Fortunes in Western Europe
, pp. 1 - 21
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

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  • THE NICHE PARTY PHENOMENON
  • Bonnie M. Meguid, University of Rochester, New York
  • Book: Party Competition between Unequals
  • Online publication: 25 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511510298.001
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  • THE NICHE PARTY PHENOMENON
  • Bonnie M. Meguid, University of Rochester, New York
  • Book: Party Competition between Unequals
  • Online publication: 25 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511510298.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • THE NICHE PARTY PHENOMENON
  • Bonnie M. Meguid, University of Rochester, New York
  • Book: Party Competition between Unequals
  • Online publication: 25 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511510298.001
Available formats
×