There is a comforting consensus among political commentators that the 2007 presidential election marked the end of Jean-Marie Le Pen as a force in French politics. The shock election of the Front National leader to the presidential run-off in 2002, by contrast, is explained as a surge in the Le Pen vote specific to the prevailing electoral conditions. This article challenges that interpretation of both elections. It shows that, despite Le Pen’s unforeseen success in 2002, there was no surge of support for him, and that despite Le Pen’s supposed collapse in 2007, he won close to 4 million votes while popular agreement with his ideas rose to its highest recorded level. The article concludes that Le Pen remains a powerful presence in French politics and that his supporters continue to constitute a large and highly influential constituency.
- far right
- Le Pen