From low-key ambivalence to qualified opposition: the French Front national and the European Union

N J Startin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


2007 was a disappointing year for the French Front National (FN) with
Jean-Marie Le Pen’s first round share of the vote in the Presidential
elections down to below 11% and with the party’s share of the vote in the
legislatives falling below 5%. Undoubtedly the ‘Sarkozy factor’ contributed
to the electoral decline of the party as the new president’s populist driven
campaign strayed into traditional FN territory over issues such as
immigration, national identity and security. The key issue, which now
separates the FN from Sarkozy’s Union Pour un Movement Populaire
(UMP), as Marine Le Pen pointed out in post-presidential election analysis,
is its opposition to the European Union. Thirty-five years since the party’s
formation, this paper explores how FN party policy and discourse on the
European question has gradually evolved from an ambivalent, soft
eurosceptic stance to a clearly-defined anti-EU position and has developed,
along with opposition to globalisation, into one of the party’s core issues.
Drawing on a survey of FN regional councillors conducted by the author in
2006, the paper then gauges the current state of opinion among the party’s
political elites and concludes that, despite some divisions, the FN’s
unambiguous negative response to globalisation and the EU remain a core
part of a wider electoral strategy designed to preserve cultural identity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2008
EventPolitical Studies Association (PSA) Annual Conference 2008 - Swansea, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Apr 20083 Apr 2008


ConferencePolitical Studies Association (PSA) Annual Conference 2008
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom

Bibliographical note

This paper was awarded the PSA Vincent Wright award for the best paper on French Politics for 2008


  • Front National; Europe


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