France: The Front National, Ethnonationalism and Populism

  • Jens Rydgren


The Front National (FN) has been one of the most successful of all populist parties in Western Europe. Indeed, during the 1980s and 1990s, the party became a model for others through its combination of ‘fervent nationalism, opposition to immigration, and a populist hostility to the political establishment’ (Eatwell, 2000: 408). The Front National shares an emphasis on ethnonationalism with other radical right-wing populist (RRP) parties which is rooted in myths about the distant past and its programme advocates strengthening the nation by making it more ethnically homogeneous and returning to traditional values. Individual rights are generally viewed as secondary to the goals of the nation. Like most populists, the FN accuses the elites of putting internationalism ahead of the nation, and of prioritizing their own narrow self-interests, and various ‘special interests’ over those of the people (Rydgren, 2007). The above elements of ethnonationalism, xenophobia and populism are fundamental, therefore, in explaining why the Front National emerged as an electoral force during the 1980s.


Presidential Election Vote Share Populist Parti Immigration Issue Front National 
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© Jens Rydgren 2008

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  • Jens Rydgren

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