The extreme right in France: from Pétain to Le Pen

James G. Shields

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The Front National has for some years been France's third political party and the most notable far-right force in Europe; its leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, contested the 2002 presidential election run-off with 5.5 million votes. What do Le Pen and the FN represent? What are their historical roots, their values and their policies? Who votes for them and why? And what has been their impact on the political agenda in France? Adopting an essentially chronological approach, the book traces the political lineage of Le Pen and the FN through key figures, movements and events on the French extreme right from the Vichy regime to the present, providing a detailed historical perspective for understanding the FN today. Part I provides a historical study of the extreme right in France since 1940, examining • the Vichy regime, collaboration and ‘collaborationism’, • the aftermath of Liberation and the post-war extreme right, • the Poujadist movement and the politics of populism, • the Algerian War as a catalyst for change, • the ‘Nouvelle Droite’ and the search for doctrinal renewal, • old and new forms of extreme-right ideology and activism. Part II undertakes a comprehensive study of the FN, analysing • the party’s early development and electoral rise, • its evolving programme and strategy, • the factors underlying its popular appeal, • the geography and composition of its electorate, • its exercise of local power and regional influence, • and its defining impact on the national political agenda. The FN, it is argued, represents both the latest manifestation of a long tradition of authoritarian nationalism and a complex new phenomenon within the changing social and political dynamics of contemporary France.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages412
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2007


  • Front National
  • France
  • political party
  • far right
  • Europe
  • Jean-Marie Le Pen
  • presidential election
  • political agenda
  • French extreme right
  • Vichy regime
  • collaborationism
  • post-war extreme right
  • Poujadist movement
  • politics of populism
  • Algerian War
  • Nouvelle Droite
  • ideology
  • activism
  • electoral rise
  • programme
  • strategy
  • popular appeal
  • electorate
  • local power
  • regional influence
  • national political agenda
  • authoritarian nationalism


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