France History - The Various Faces of the Right

France History – The Various Faces of the Right

According to, the political crisis had worsened in recent years, among other things due to the scandalous attitudes adopted by some political groups. Since Chirac’s turnaround in October 1995, when, five months after his election to the presidency of the Republic, he renounced the program on the basis of which he had been elected (based on the observation of the ‘social fracture’) and adopted an ultra-liberal policy, he knew that the French right was in trouble, without compass, without doctrine and without identity. The great revolt of the railway workers in November and December 1995, supported by the majority of the French and supported by intellectuals, especially by Pierre Bourdieu, had already shown that society was aware of the dangers that globalization caused the French social model to run. The failure suffered by the right in the legislative elections of May 1997, following the dissolution of the Assembly decided by Chirac, added to this the loss of confidence in the leaders and the crumbling of the apparatuses. With no leaders, no organization, no program, the right launched into a very difficult enterprise of ‘refounding’. Was a loss of such proportions really unpredictable? No, because there has been much insistence on the shock caused on the left by the three epochal events of the late 1980s (fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War and the implosion of the Soviet Union) which marked the end of the war cold (1948-89) and the end of the postwar period (1945-91), it has not been emphasized enough how much this end of a historical cycle has left the traditional right, everywhere, paradoxically lost and disoriented. Is it a coincidence that in Italy the Christian Democracy has ended up in pieces? Or, again, that the British Conservatives suffered the most bitter defeat in their history in 1997?

If we add to these traumas the accumulated effects of the three great contemporary mutations – the technological (IT and numerical), the economic (globalization and financialization) and the sociological (mass exclusions, identity crisis, transformation of power) – the upheavals they are such that the traditional right, while boasting the merits of globalization, finds itself (in the same way as the left) bewildered, unable to find a proactive measure. These mutations, together with the economic crisis and the policies to build liberal Europe, have involved an explosion of inequalities and unleashed social scourges such as unemployment and mass poverty. In this economic context and on this social humus, made up of fear and dismay, it is not surprising that the parties born from the current of the extreme right are experiencing a phase of great revival. “Of the approximately 380 million residents of the European Union – when Norway and Switzerland are added to its 15 member states for good reasons – 8.5% voted for one of the variants of the far right. However, even if this figure is not very high, it hides large disparities at the national level […]. Thus, Switzerland, Italy and Austria recorded the same percentage of votes in favor of the far right: around 25%. Then follow Norway, France and Flanders with about 15% of the votes “(Kris Dechouwer, Switzerland, Italy and Austria recorded the same percentage of votes in favor of the far right: around 25%. Then follow Norway, France and Flanders with about 15% of the votes “(Kris Dechouwer, Unité et diversité de l’extrême droite européenne, in Politique, 21, November 2001, special issue on the far right in Europe). In France, the Front national of Jean-Marie Le Pen as well as the MNR (Mouvement national républicain) of Bruno Mégret propose the cult of blood and homeland, the restoration of the nation (in the ethnic sense of the term), the establishment of an authoritarian regime under the pretext of fighting against insecurity, the drastic reduction of income taxes, the return to economic protectionism, the return of women to the home and the expulsion of three million foreigners in order to free up jobs intended for the French.

Heirs of Pétain and the collaborators, fed by the resentment of the nostalgics of French Algeria, these two parties (which did not leave the Resistance), despite some superficial precautions, have not ceased to proclaim their racism, their xenophobia and their anti-Semitism. They embody the very negation of the values ​​of the Republic.

But, unlike most other political formations, they are interclassist parties in whose ranks coexist bourgeois and proletarians, small businessmen and the unemployed, people of different sensibilities: Catholics, traditionalists, Vichyists, former members of the OAS (Organization de l’armée secrète), partisans of French Algeria, monarchists, supporters of racial and pagan theories etc. They are present in many difficult neighborhoods, where they offer warmth and solidarity to people in difficulty; their militants often give evidence of the devotion and self-denial that once characterized communist militants. For this reason, in the various elections their candidates obtain an important percentage of the popular votes and in some regions (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Alsace, North) their influence continues to grow.

In December 2001, despite the fact that Le Pen had conducted an electoral ‘pre-campaign’ in the name of discretion, the polls already attributed him 11% of the voting intentions in the elections for the President of the Republic the following month of May, and they made the leader of the Front national, together with Jean-Pierre Chevènement, the third best candidate for the presidential office. As for Mégret, opinion polls attributed him between 1 and 3% of voting intentions. In total, in the polls, the national-populist candidates obtained a very remarkable result, close to 15% (one in six voters!), Equivalent to what the far right had achieved, a few months earlier, in the cantonal elections (Le Monde, December 30, 2001). Going beyond the forecasts, on April 21, 2002, in the first round of the presidential elections, the number of votes in favor of far-right parties exceeded 18%.

Even regular left voters vote for these national-populist parties, and militants from the traditional right don’t hesitate to join them. Studies have shown that only 1% of Front National cadres belong to the far right, while 40% come from the Gaullist movements. There are political personalities who now openly seek the support of the national-populists, on the basis of the argument (nefarious effect of the theses of François Furet and the Livre noir du communisme by Stéphane Courtois) that the Socialist Party also agreed to join the Communist Party. In Germany, at the beginning of the 1930s, this type of reasoning led the parties of the traditional right to welcome the National Socialist Party, which presented itself in the most seductive guise, as an ally. We know what happened to the right-wing parties. And democracy.

France History - The Various Faces of the Right