Le Pen S Extreme Right And The
Development Of It S Electorate. Essay, Research Paper
Le Pen s Extreme Right and the development of it s electorate.
In this essay I will be looking at the Extreme Right and how through the years the FN (Front National) has managed to become the leading and most popular party of the far right in France. I will also be looking at the different voting tendencies that the Extreme Right has had to cope with through out the last 40 years.
To understand better how the Extreme Right has become increasingly more successful with the public in general, it is important to take a look at some of it s background history.
The Extreme Right, before the FN was created, was made of many different fragmented movements which had at their heads strong charismatic leaders, a typical historical necessity for a far Right movement, or party, not just in France but everywhere, for example A. Hitler in Germany and B. Mussolini in Italy. It s a proven fact that a movement or party with far right tendencies, needs a strong leader or it will not survive, it is very important not to confuse movement with parties, movements is what the French Extreme right had before the creation of the FN with the exceptions of two parties, the first one being Poujades (UDCA) formed in 1953 and the second Tixier-Vignancour s party, both of which tried running for the elections both ending up in failure. A movement is generally not large nor powerful enough to enter their leader for the elections its list is generally not large enough, but on the other hand a party can do so if one, its list is large enough and they consider to have enough votes from their electorates to cover their campaign costs (need to have 5%+ of the overall votes to be refunded). This is one of the reasons why the FN came about.
There were movements such as Ordre Nouveaux who believed in the use of violence to communicate their political message, on a number of occasions did their partisans take part in conflicts, such was the case in Paris at la Porte de Versailles on the 9th of March 1971 were ON met and fought against the left partisans and the police. The fighting lasted 2 hours, this was the worst recorded fight since Mai 1968. Due to theses movements violent tendencies it was decided to scrap both Ordre Nouveau and the Communist League so to try and prevent any reoccurrence of this type. Before this happened, some public figures had accused the Front National of being a cover up for Ordre Nouveau, they had described it as a way of giving Ordre Nouveau a second chance, was something to go wrong. But in fact it was set up to act as a host for the fragmented movements that made up the Extreme Right. It was time for the Far Right to gather it s forces together and partake in the political fight as one united force, in most cases, still not sharing the same principles but at least fighting for roughly the same ideologies.
Ordre Nouveau along side certain other leaders of the other Extreme Right movements had under estimated J.M.Le PEN who they had decided was the providential man of the FN due to his high involvement in Extreme Right Politics (Poujade, Korea, Indochina, Algeria, through to Tixier-Vignancour) with only one exception that being Ordre Nouveau, which in the long run his non participation played in his favour. J.M.Le PEN is the only political figure still alive and in politics to have experienced both the 4th and the 5th republic regime, therefore making him more experienced than the majority. Le Pen had partook in nearly all the Extreme Right fights but at the same time had made sure not to get too deeply involved, which on the other hand was not to be said for his fellow colleagues, who for the majority were already leaders of various movements or certainly too involved in movements such as Ordre Nouveau, La FANE and many other far right movements therefore making them inadequate for the specific post. The various leaders who had plotted against him were in for a surprise, they thought they could control him they wanted him to become the leader but behind they wanted to be pulling the strings, the result was to be very different. As soon as Le Pen came to power he started getting rid of the extremists, he thought that if he was to broaden his electorate circle, changes had to be made this took around ten years due to people like Mark Fredriksen which was at the head of La FANE (an extremist neo-nazi organisation which strongly believed in the use of violence).
It is at this stage that it is wise to ask one self: what really consists the electorate of the FN? But first it is wise to remind one self of the different traditional tendencies that constitute the base of the electorate of Jean Marie Le Pen.
At the start, the FN was a failure Ordre Nouveau before its termination had abandoned it and had gone it s own way and the FN was finding it difficult to attract voters. So this is why it is important to go back a stage further and look at the Extreme Rights supporters this so to understand better the evolution or should I say the change of the electorates. At the start the typical electorates were called Le Terreau Traditionel otherwise known as the Gross roots supporters these were people such as the Royalists, and the anti revolutionaries of 1789 they were a group of dissatisfied people who wanted the old regime back, King, Queen, Church and Country, there were also the revolutionaries who were for a social revolution, these people were classed in the same category as the Fascists and Extremists, which made up a very small portion of the Extreme right s electorate.
At the time of the creation of the Front National J.M.Le Pen found that people were simply not interested in voting for the party, of course there were a handful of supporters left over from the few periods in time where the Extreme right had managed to score a few valuable points. Such as the Vichyists years were the extreme Right had collaborated their effort with the Germans at the time of the occupation, funnily enough this period being the only time in French history that the Far Right has ever risen to power and even then, it cannot be consider real power due to the strong influence the Germans had in France. To this category can be added the Colaborateur otherwise known in English as the Ancestors these people can be closely linked to that of the Vychyists, characters such as Mr R. Brasillach could be found amongst this group which made up a Vychyists kind of people who had collaborated with the Germans in Paris. You also had the Maurassiens who had been active at the beginning of the century in movements such as Action Fran aise they were an anti-Semitic people therefore could relate to the Racist tendency of the Front National. Then came the militants of Ordre Nouveau and Occident both Extreme Right movements known for their violent tendencies they were followed by the Neo-Nazis Skin Heads which started and encouraged the move towards a younger type of voter for the Front National. It is very important not to forget to mention the Anti de-colonialisationists who were made up of soldiers and people who had been for the Algerian war and who had wanted to keep French Colonies such as Indochina, Morocco, Tunisia, in this group you had the OAS (Organisation Arm e Secr te) who had fought and tortured in Algeria. All these people wanted the same thing they were Nationals who wanted France to become a great power with large amounts of territories.
To make it clearer were the Far Right got its electorate It is important to specify that the majority of the voters of the Extreme Right were individuals, individuals who did not share each others opinions although they voted for the same party. This was due to two main reasons the first one being. The Extreme right offered what no other party was offering, that was variety the choice of choosing . Not all the electorate were racist, there were people as I mentioned before who wanted the Royalist system back, others wanted to keep the French Colonies and on the other extreme there were the people who just wanted a simple radical change, this, the far Right offered, by simply voting for them it was a way for people to get back at the parties they had been used to vote for, people were fed up, they had been lied to once too many times, they had had enough of all the empty promises spoken by the leaders of the various parties during election speeches. In doing this, these people started to make a change, it was a silent protest, but with a considerable amount of impact, this was an easy quick way to change their principals and what they stood for, which leads us to the D us . As I mentioned before J.M.Le Pen had decided to broaden his electorates it was no longer going to be the old Gross Roots Supporters which made up the votes.
It was time for a refreshing start, in the early 80 s the Front National experienced a large increase in popularity, it saw itself go from rock bottom to a continuous gain in voters, this was due to a number of factors the first one being the fall therefore the rapid decline in the popularity of Communism in France and in the world. At the beginning of the 80 s the Socialists were coming up strong, this played in the Front National favour, the Socialists were getting stronger and the Communists weaker, their party was loosing popularity therefore it was getting smaller, many people had lost interest in the PC which was becoming less interesting for people who wanted results, so a lot of old communists which had voted for Communism as a protest against the system found themselves switching to the Front National who in many cases shared the same ideologies as the PC, they were mainly working class people but nevertheless they were extra votes. These men and women were called Les D us de la Gauche (the disappointed of the left). With the rise in popularity of Socialism people were starting to get high expectations, they wanted what the French called Du Social they thought that F. Mitterrand could give it to them, but the time was wrong, it turned to his disadvantage, the oil crisis was reaching its peak and the high level of unemployment did not help the situation, this, once again created more D us de la gauche but this time not only from the PC but the PS as well , of which a large majority of the voters then joined the FN electorate.
In 1983 at Dreux, J.P Stirbois an active member of the Front National runs for the regional elections and gets a very respectable score, this due to the fact that Dreux is classified as a Banlieu (Outskirts), so it can be left to think that the high support obtained by the FN came from the French people who live in this particular banlieu who of which for most of them were fed up of petty crime and unnecessary violence which they consider Arab, Black and other Ethnic minorities partly to blame. It is then that the Front National starts its uprising. At the European elections of 1984 the FN gets 10.95%, in 86 at the Legislative elections they repeat their exploit from two years back with a score of 9.63%, in 1988 at the Presidential elections J.M.Le Pen scores an astonishing 14,38% one of the highest scores the FN has ever had, this thanks to the support of another type of D us this time from the traditional right, this due to the cohabitation between J. Chirac Prime Minister at the time and F. Mitterrand the President. In 1988-93 whilst the left were in power they manage to generate even more D us than the previous time, this due to the steadily climbing rate of unemployment in France, people especially the working class were worried of the consequences this would lead to. Amongst certain high ranking officials It s a period of corruption and crime, for example you have the case of the Sang Contaminer which was were a hand full of French doctors and apparently some Government officials (this was never proven) made large amounts of money by selling blood which they knew was contaminated by the AIDS Virus. At that same time they were problems with certain political parties which were put under observation for having more than suspicious funding. All these aspects created a certain type of instability which made people think twice for who they were voting for, the left was in power so what better to do for people who were dissatisfied, than vote for the right. From 93-97 at the time, Baladur was Prime Minister the traditional right once again creates some D cus again it s due to the same reasons as before unemployment, more and more people are starting to worry about their work situation.
Before starting the conclusion it is important to recap what has been said in the last few pages and to go in a little more depth so to understand how the split of the FN happened and how its electorate changed once again. So, in the 1980 s the electorate of the Front National was orientated towards a traditional catholic, bordering to an extremist Catholics tendency. Many wealthy families and people classified as the Bourgeois were being attracted by Le Pens political ideologies and his powerful speeches. The FN had built up Communism to become its enemy number one, many of their political speeches were based on how to fight against them and how to change matters so to try and eradicate Communism, in doing this Le Pen was attracting people that had previously voted for the Communists, Socialists and many other groups. But when the Wall went down that meant the end of communism, therefore the FN had to find a new cause to fight for. Modernisation was its new enemy in doing this it was inevitable for the USA to become the FN s new enemy .It is there that Le Pen and his party adopted a more social approach for his political speech, it was starting to resemble more a discourse which you would expect to come from the left, B Megret and Le Pen by adopting a more populist discourse were defending the working class, which resulted in an increase of 15% extra votes, at one stage the Front National became the biggest Party Ouvrier of France (working class party). By now the Front National was attracting a lot younger generation that what it had been used to, its main electorate consisted of wealthy people (the Bourgeois), the working class, the younger generations, the impoverished and the unemployed. The FN was getting it s best results from the outskirts of Paris and was doing exceptionally well in the south of France where certain towns such as Vitrole, Toulon, Marigiane and Marseille made up the main proportion of the FN electorate. The FN was also supported by people in the army and the Police force, even at one stage the police force tried setting up un syndicat de FN Police which was a type of syndicate which in certain ways paid tribute to the FN.
This takes us to the split of the FN and how the electorate fragmented itself and went to different parties. As you probably know the FN electorate origins are very heterogeneous. People had been voting for the FN because it was perceived as been unified and strong, now the split had happened it lost its voters, why? The electorate were voting for the FN because they considered it to be a big enough party and to have enough political influence to be able to portray to the other parties and the public, what its political ideologies were, but with the split into two of the FN ( Front National, and MNR Mouvement National Republicain), it had caused a great deal of chaos, people no longer thought that either of theses parties were big or strong enough to have a chance of winning in the next elections so to put it crudely they were thinking what s the point of voting for a party who will never win . So on the 13th of June 99 at the European Elections both parties take part the FN (Front Nationale) and the MNR (Mouvement Nationale R publicain) both of them do miserably the FN gets 5.69 % and the MNR 3.28%. These two scores put together make a total of 8.97 %, the result had not been so low since 1984. When you look at these results you can be sure when saying that the future of both parties is resting on a thin edge, it can be considered that both leaders did wrong by going there own separate ways and that they must have overestimated their popularity towards their electorate. The question to ask oneself is: is there enough room nowadays in the extreme right for two parties and will they ever regain the popularity that they once had. Only the future has the answer.
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