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Critically assess available explanations of the rise of the National Front, and assess and explain its impact on French politics

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Assessing the available explanations of the rise of the National Front.
    1. The purely political factors.
    2. Social and economic factors.
    3. The cultural context in which this rise is taking place.
  3. Looking at the local, national, and European levels: The impact of the rise of the National Front shall be assessed.
    1. The National Front at the local level.
    2. The national scale.
    3. Affects on the European construction.
  4. Bibliography.

The National Front was founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen and since the 1980s has managed to enter French political life. The European elections of 1984 saw the National Front gain 11% of votes, and in the parliamentary elections of 1986 and 1988, the National Front won 10%. The presidential elections of 1988 saw the National Front benefit from 14.4% of the votes cast in the first ballot. More recently, the presidential elections of 2002 saw Jean-Marie Le Pen face to face with Jacques Chirac. Many countries in Western Europe have experienced a significant rise in extreme right wing parties' popularity and some countries such as Austria and Italy have even witnessed such parties come to power in coalition governments. Several reasons can be evoked when trying to assess why there has been such a rise of the National Front in France, namely, political, social and economic factors, as well as an identity crisis, and other factors grouped into a cultural context. One of the greatest impacts of the rise of the National Front is the changing of the political agenda, which now has a greater focus on immigration issues.

[...] The rise in votes in favour of the National Front, are not new votes, and so one must keep in mind that these are votes from the Left and Right. Indeed, due to the continuous tensions between the Right and the Left as well as their ineffectiveness in office, the French were searching for a way to manifest their discontent. It has been noted that after periods of cohabitation the populist vote rises. At the time of the 2002 presidential elections, France had experienced the longest period of cohabitation to date, this then explains to some degree the rise of the National Front. [...]


[...] This goes some way in accounting for the rise of the National Front as their programme was and in general is focused on criminality and law and order. As most French people own a television and read a newspaper ( of French households are equipped with TVs (Mediametrie poll 2003) and 32% of all French people read a newspaper on a regular basis according to Ipsos 2003)) this line was naturally a top priority in the minds of the French people at the time of casting their votes, and so the National Front seemed a logical choice. [...]


[...] The level of impact is hard to measure, it would be fair to say however that there are consequences at each of the levels mentioned, local, national and European, and that although the impacts are not detrimental or massive, the National Front does seem to be gaining popularity as time goes on and perhaps France is close to a political shake-up with more reverberating consequences than see thus far. Bibliography http://infodoc.unicaen.fr/adret/IDF_FN.pdf http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,11882,690101,00.html http://www.humanite.presse.fr/journal/1998-01-23/1998-01-23-408333 http://www.natfront.com/2a5-vote-nf.pdf http://www.selc.ed.ac.uk/french/french_staff/rogers.htm http://www.socialism.com/fsarticles/vol23no2/France.html http://www.sunderland.ac.uk/~os0tmc/contemp1/lepen.htm http://www.thelawjournal.co.uk/le_pen_and_the_rise_of_fascism.htm Buléon, P. [...]

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