The Successful Welfare-Chauvinist Party? The Front National in the 2012 elections in France
ESA's Research Network on Political Sociology (RN32) Mid-term conference
2012-11-30 / 2012-12-01
Radical Right voting in France, Economic positions, Welfare Chauvinism, Extreme right, FN, Presidential election
After shallow electoral waters in 2007, the Front national (FN) has made an impressive come back in the 2012 French presidential election winning 17.9 per cent of the first-round vote. Such performance was bolstered by the economic and political context: in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, France had entered a period of economic instability, rising unemployment and deep social pessimism. This paper looks at how the FN has striven to adapt to the social demand for protection and redistribution in the French public. Under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, the party has undergone significant changes in its economic policies and evolved towards Kitschelt's original model of 'welfare-chauvinism' combining exclusionism, authoritarianism and statist redistributive economic policies. This paper examines the magnitude of this strategic programmatic shift by the FN, and to which extent the formulation of a renewed economic agenda has enabled the party to evolve towards an electorally more beneficial position in the 2012 presidential race. Possible implications for the competitive shape of the French party system are discussed in the conclusion.