Forecasting the Extreme Right Vote in France (1984–2007)


This article identifies an issue model forecasting Extreme Right results in France between 1984 and 2007. Building upon the VP-function literature, this article looks at developing a model of electoral support for the Front National and Jean-Marie Le Pen, based upon the key political issues that are seen as motivating votes for this party: unemployment, crime and immigration. Controlling for political context through election type and opposition popularity, we find that the vote is linked to variation in macro-indicators of these issues and that consequently the Extreme Right vote in France is far from unpredictable, as some analyses have previously suggested.

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Figure 1


  1. 1.

    As was for instance evident from the 1997 legislative election where the party stood in no less than 132 second-round ballots of which 76 were three-way run-offs.

  2. 2.

    First-round defection to the UMP's candidate by a substantial proportion of previous FN voters — about 20–25% — is indeed largely confirmed by exit polls and correlation analysis at constituency level.

  3. 3.

    We restrict ourselves here to ecological analyses. A number of survey-based, multi-level analyses also exist (e.g. Lubbers et al., 2002; Arzheimer and Carter, 2006).

  4. 4.

    In Erikson and Wlezien's opinion, election-eve polling predictions are ‘trivially easy’, although the 2000 election contest would seem to belie this assertion.

  5. 5.

    We have not given f-values in the models, given that relevant information is provided by the parameter estimates and standard errors. For those interested in p-values, all estimates were strongly significant, except for presidential vote in Model 1 and crime rate in Model 2, neither of which attained significance at 5%.

  6. 6.

    In previous first-order election models the authors ran, criminality appeared to be an important indicator. This finding suggests that there is a first-order/second-order disparity that needs further research. However, with only 19 cases, the possibility of including further controls is limited.

  7. 7.

    Indeed, there is a strong negative correlation (−0.58) between opposition party popularity change and prime ministerial popularity change, suggesting this to be the case.


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Evans, J., Ivaldi, G. Forecasting the Extreme Right Vote in France (1984–2007). Fr Polit 6, 137–151 (2008).

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  • Extreme Right
  • election forecasting
  • economic models
  • VP function