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Marine Le Pen’s peopolisation: An asset for leadership image-building?

Abstract

The article investigates whether the image-building of Marine Le Pen as the leader of the Front National has helped to reinforce the idea of the renewal of her party. In particular, it focuses on Le Pen’s peopolisation in order to understand whether her presentation as a family woman facing the everyday problems of the common people has played a role in the so-called process of dédiabolisation. The study is based on the analysis of Le Pen’s coverage in the popular press. The results show that there is a clear consistency between Le Pen’s image of a leader in the process of renewing her party and press coverage that focused on her being a modern woman and a daughter in the process of distancing herself from her father.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    With popular press I am referring to a large and varied set of media outlets that include magazines with popular culture news, photonews magazines, celebrity magazines, entertaining magazines. They are addressed to the general public and use a language easy to be understood by a large audience.

  2. 2.

    Although a prelude can be identified in the visibility of Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s family in the 1970s (Desterbecq 2015, 45).

  3. 3.

    The first show attracted more than 3 million viewers, more than other well-known political programmes http://people.bfmtv.com/tv/audiencesune-ambition-intime-plus-fort-que-l-emission-politique-1046208.html.

  4. 4.

    For a general assessment of continuities and novelties of FN fundamental readings are Perrineau (2014), Crépon et al. (2015), and Gombin (2016). Shields (2013) offers a useful synthetic account. Alduy and Wahnich (2015) focus on a comparison of the language of Jean-Marie and Marine Le Pen.

  5. 5.

    See data reported in Perrineau (2016, 67).

  6. 6.

    On Marine Le Pen’s participation in Ambition Intime see Alexis Delcambre and Olivier Faye, Marine Le Pen profite à plein de la pipolisation de la campagne, Le Monde, 10 October 2016 http://www.lemonde.fr/election-presidentielle-2017/article/2016/10/11/marine-le-pen-poursuit-sa-drole-de-campagne_5011476_4854003.html. On the peopolisation of Marine Le Pen see also Bastien Hugues, Marine Le Pen: une peopolitique (presque) comme les autres, Le Figaro, 30 March 2011 http://blog.lefigaro.fr/peopolitique/2011/03/marine-le-pen-une-peopolitique-comme-les-autres.html.

  7. 7.

    The blog www.carnetdesesperances.fr was launched in February 2016 (accessed on 30/9/2016). The original version is no more accessible as it had been transformed in a section of Marine Le Pen’s electoral blog http://www.marine2017.fr/carnets-desperances/ (accessed on 23/12/2016). See Alduy’s comments here: http://leplus.nouvelobs.com/contribution/1490154-marine-le-pen-lance-un-blog-elle-utilise-des-procedes-dignes-de-publicites-de-lessive.html.

  8. 8.

    https://www.marine2017.fr/2017/02/07/marine-femme-mere-avocate-nouveau-tract/.

  9. 9.

    In the video of the presentation of the slogan and logo of the presidential campaign (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6AicZ3y9Zg) Marine Le Pen says that the blue rose (something that does not exist in nature, but is a human creation) is also meant to evoke the impossible that becomes possible. With this choice, she seems to send a message that, although full of energy, does not lack some softness.

  10. 10.

    Marine2017 official Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU3z3px1_RCqYBwrs8LJVWg.

  11. 11.

    According to the traits’ evaluations reported by the Cevipof-Baromètre des priorités politiques et des dynamiques électorales (https://www.enef.fr), in the last 2015 wave Marine Le Pen is described as nice (“sympathique”) by only 28% of respondents (34% in the first 2014 wave).

  12. 12.

    In the last 2015 wave of the Baromètre des priorités politiques et des dynamiques électorales (https://www.enef.fr), Marine Le Pen is viewed by 62% of respondents as not being presidential (“n’a pas l’étoffe d’un Président”).

  13. 13.

    Some studies are based on quality newspapers (Langer 2010; Stanyer 2013). Holtz-Bacha et al. (2014) carried out a general analysis of the personalization (including also a search of “personal” references) basing on quality and tabloid newspapers. Other authors focus explicitly on photonews and gossip magazines (Ciaglia and Mazzoni 2015a, b). In particular, Ciaglia and Mazzoni (2015a) applied Stanyer (2013)’s typology of the three dimensions of the personal sphere by adding a fourth dimension, the institutional domain.

  14. 14.

    Studies on the French case by Errera (2006), Dakhlia (2008) and Zambrano (2013) are based on the analysis of the popular and celebrity press.

  15. 15.

    Data on diffusion come from the Alliance pour les Chiffres de la Presse et des Médias; Classification of Press Magazines—Diffusion payante http://www.acpm.fr/Chiffres/Diffusion/La-Presse-Payante/Presse-Magazine, accessed on 23/11/2016.

  16. 16.

    See previous note.

  17. 17.

    Laurence Pieau, La Politique passée au Scan de Closer, “Closer”, 3 June 2016.

  18. 18.

    Mariana Grepinet, Front National. Derrière Marine l’ombre de Le Pen, “Paris Match”, 8 September 2011, p. 96 and Virginie Le Guay, Front National. Derrière la fille, l’ombre du père fait peur, “Paris Match”, 5 December 2013, p. 54.

  19. 19.

    The five reports in chronological order are: Virginie Le Guay, Marine Le Pen, Front commun avec Louis, “Paris Match” 23 February 2012, pp. 52–55; Virginie Le Guay, Marine Le Pen déborde d’énergie, “Paris Match”, 20 November 2014, pp. 56–59; Virginie Le Guay, Marine Le Pen prend ses distances, “Paris Match”, 16 April 2015, pp. 40–47; Virginie Le Guay et Francois Labroullère, Marine et Jean-Marie Le Pen. La guerre est déclarée, “Paris Match”, 7 May 2015, pp. 68–71; the fifth is composed of a four-pages (pp. 68–71) photo report, Marine Le Pen voit loin and an article by Virginie Le Guay, Le Pen Nord-Le Pen Sud. La tante et la nièce prennent la France en tenaille, “Paris Match”, 17 December 2015, pp. 72–73. Jean-Marie Rouart, Le Front National: premier parti de France, “Paris Match”, 28 May 2014, pp. 54–5, was published after the European election; however, it is an analysis of the electoral results and not especially focused on MLP.

  20. 20.

    “Paris Match”, 22 September 2011, p. 115.

  21. 21.

    See note 18.

  22. 22.

    Virginie Le Guay, Marine Le Pen prend ses distances, cit.; Virginie Le Guay et Francois Labroullère, Marine et Jean-Marie Le Pen. La guerre est déclarée, cit.

  23. 23.

    Virginie Le Guay, Jean-Marie Le Pen: Je ne crains rien ni personne, “Paris Match”, 19 June 2014, pp. 62–7.

  24. 24.

    Virginie Le Guay, Jany Le Pen monte au front, “Paris Match” 10 September 2015, pp. 68–71.

  25. 25.

    For instance, on 11 August 2016, p. 24 Paris Match publishes a very short article on how she is spending the summertime, L’été discret de Marine Le Pen. But the coverage is actually very limited with respect to the space given by the magazine to the holidays of other politicians (To make a comparison, Emmanuel Macron on holiday appears on the cover of the same issue).

  26. 26.

    Virginie Le Guay, Le Pen Nord-Le Pen Sud. La tante et la nièce prennent la France en tenaille, cit.

  27. 27.

    The only other article of Paris Match on Le Pen’s love life can be found in the column Les couples de pouvoir, 8 August 2013. It is entitled Marine et Louis: Le feu et la glace and argues that their couple is based on a complementary relationship in which “the easygoing and poised Louis has a calming influence on Marine, often under pressure”.

  28. 28.

    Virginie Le Guay, Marine Le Pen déborde d’énergie, cit.

  29. 29.

    Except the issue n. 337, November 2016.

  30. 30.

    http://www.closermag.fr/politique.

  31. 31.

    Lea Lepicard, Marine Le Pen: Son couple explose, “Closer”, 30 May 2014, pp. 12–3.

  32. 32.

    https://twitter.com/mlp_officiel/status/472291237677264896. On Marine Le Pen’s answer to Closer see also Marion Dubreuil, Marine Le Pen en Une de Closer: Une responsable politique en voie de pipolisation, RTL, May 30, 2016 http://www.rtl.fr/actu/politique/marine-le-pen-en-une-de-closer-une-responsable-politique-en-voie-de-pipolisation-7772339773.

  33. 33.

    Violaine Bakou, Le pire weekend de sa vie, “Closer”, 17 April 2015, pp. 8–9.

  34. 34.

    Son pére seme le trouble dans son couple, “Closer”, 28 August 2015, p. 20.

  35. 35.

    Nina Perrault, Marine Le Pen en mode été, “Closer”, 1 July 2016, pp. 10–13.

  36. 36.

    A first insight on Marine Le Pen’s sentimental life appears in an article on the love stories of politicians: Samuel Cannes, Qui est avec qui? Chez les politiques, “Closer”, 19 November 2015, pp. 28–29. Here the couple is presented as a successful meeting of hearts and political minds, since the two work together in the FN. Other articles are the already mentioned Lea Lepicard, Marine Le Pen: Son couple explose, cit.; Violaine Bakou, Le pire weekend de sa vi e, cit.

  37. 37.

    Charles Lecoutre, Marine Le Pen au mariage de Marion Maréchal Le Pen, Trop d’émotions, “Closer”, 1 August 2014, p. 18.

  38. 38.

    Chien et chat, “Closer”, 4 October 2014, p. 24.

  39. 39.

    Marine Le Pen. Elle change de branches!, “Closer”, 15 April 2016, p. 27; Marine Le Pen en prend de la graine.. du lin, “Closer”, 1 April 2016, p. 28. In this last article, it is made a parallel between Marine Le Pen’s intention both to change the line of her party and to go on a diet.

  40. 40.

    Marine Le Pen. Sur le même tapis rouge de Kim Kardashian, “Closer”, 24 April 2015, p. 20.

  41. 41.

    Laquelle vous faites le plus fantasmer?, “Closer”, 29 October 2011, p. 17.

  42. 42.

    Charles Lecoutre, Marine Le Pen au mariage de Marion Maréchal Le Pen, Trop d’émotions,  cit.

  43. 43.

    Virginie Le Guay, Marine Le Pen, Front commun avec Louis, cit. See Matonti (2013, 6)’s comments on it.

  44. 44.

    Virginie Le Guay, Marine Le Pen déborde d’énergie, cit.

  45. 45.

    Violaine Bakou, Le pire weekend de da vie, cit.

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Campus, D. Marine Le Pen’s peopolisation: An asset for leadership image-building?. Fr Polit 15, 147–165 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41253-017-0026-9

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Keywords

  • Celebrity politics
  • Intimization
  • Marine Le Pen
  • Leadership
  • Media coverage
  • Front National