Overview

National Front


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(France)

Extreme right‐wing movement, formed in 1972 by Jean‐Marie Le Pen, ex‐ Poujadist and militant supporter of a French Algeria. Its most successful period began in 1986, when the introduction of proportional representation and a vote of around 10 per cent ensured the return of a sizeable group of deputies. In the 1988 presidential contest Le Pen's support averaged over 14 per cent nationally, more in large industrial centres where unemployment was high, and in the Mediterranean departments with large concentrations of North African immigrants. In 1999 Bruno Mégret and more than half the party leadership left the FN to form the Mouvement National Républicain (MNR). This new party was sympathetic to coalition formation with the mainstream right, whilst Le Pen continued to pursue a ‘neither left nor right’ strategy. The extreme‐right vote was split between the FN and the MNR, with the former marginally more popular, until the 2002 Presidential elections; in the first round Le Pen took second place with 16.9 per cent of the vote ahead of the socialist candidate Lionel Jospin. The shock result led to major demonstrations against the extreme right, and Le Pen made little progress in the second round.

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