The Specter Haunting Europe: “Heritage Populism” and France’s National Front

Issue Date October 2016
Volume 27
Issue 4
Page Numbers 47-57
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Across advanced democracies, a new strain of populism of the right that combines hostility toward elites with opposition to the European Union, immigrants, and Islam, has emerged with force. Proponents of this “heritage populism” emphasize the protection of heritage, whether tangible (living standards) or intangible (ways of life). In France, the French National Front (FN) is the face of this new populist strain. This paper traces the evolution of the FN from a fringe party of the far-right to a mainstream party with growing broad-based appeal. The rise of the FN and the prospect that its leader, Marine Le Pen, may capture the presidency in 2017 represent an acute threat to liberal democracy in France and to the political stability of Europe generally.

About the Author

Dominique Reynié is a professor at Sciences Po in Paris and chief executive director of the Fondation pour l’innovation politiqueHis recent books include Populismes: La pente fatale (2011), reissued in 2013 as Les nouveaux populismes. In December 2016, he ran as a member of Les Républicains for a seat on the regional council of Languedoc-Rous-sillon-Midi-Pyrénées in southern France.

View all work by Dominique Reynié