The Electoral Rise of the National Front

  • Jonathan Marcus


Under the strong conservative Presidential regime of the Fifth Republic, the Far Right struggled for over two decades to make any electoral impact at all. In the Presidential election of 1965 Jean-Louis Tixier-Vignancour, a former minister in the Vichy government and longstanding Far-Right notable, capitalised on rancour at the granting of independence to Algeria to obtain 5.3 per cent of the vote. However, the extreme right-wing surge came and went. The Far Right, a heterogeneous collection of groups, fragments and individuals, seemed to have been entirely marginalised by the dominance of the mainstream Right: first the Gaullists, and then the duopoly of the RPR and the coalition of liberal and centrist parties, the UDF.


Presidential Election Vote System Opinion Poll Local Root Socialist Party 
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  1. 1.
    For the exploitation of the theme of immigration during the campaign, see Le Monde, 13 March 1983. For an analysis of the campaign, see J. Marcus and C. Dorgan, ‘Trench Politics and the Municipal Elections of March 1983’, The Political Quarterly, 54 (1983) 307–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    In Vernouillet (Eure-et-Loire) and Chêteauneuf-sur-Charente (Charente) National Front candidates scored 11.6 per cent and 10.2 per cent. See Gerard Le Gall, ‘Un recul du “bloc au pouvoir” moindre en 1983 qu’en 1977’, Revue politique et parlementaire, 903 (1983), 11–41.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    See P. Perrineau, ‘Le Front National: 1972–1992’, in M. Winock (ed.), Histoire de l’extrème droite en France (Paris: Seuil, 1993).Google Scholar
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  7. 15.
    Le Monde, 26 April 1988. For analysis, see J. Marcus, ‘French Politics after the Elections’, The World Today, (October 1988), 173–6. Also P. Perrineau, ‘Le Front national et les élections: L’exception présidentielle et la règle législative’, Revue politique et parlementaire, 936 (1988), 34–41.Google Scholar
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    As Pascal Perrineau emphasised in an interview with the author, the apparent coincidence between the decline of the Communist Party and the rise of the FN is a complex phenomenon and difficult to approach in a quantitative manner. While there is little evidence for direct transfers of PCF voters to the Front, there is strong circumstantial evidence, at the very least, to suggest that the Front has to some extent come to replace the PCF in its ‘tribune role’, in areas of former Communist strength. One suggestion is that disillusioned former Communist voters may take refuge in abstention for some years before drifting into a vote for Le Pen. See E. Plenel and A. Rollat, L’effet Le Pen (Paris: La Découverte/Le Monde, 1984), pp. 118–23Google Scholar
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  10. 18.
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    N. Mayer and H. Rey, ‘Avancée électorale, isolement politique du Front national’, Revue politique et parlementaire, 964 (1993), 42–8.Google Scholar

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© Jonathan Marcus 1995

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  • Jonathan Marcus

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