Le Front National is a political party in France which has been generally characterized as being radically conservative and neo-fascist. It is a multi-level party, with representatives at the national, regional (cantons) and municipal levels. It was created in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is to this day the leader of the party, and in the elections the following year the party received 1.32% of the popular vote. In 1986, the 35 members of the party were elected into power and in 1988, Le Pen received 15% of the popular vote (fourth place overall) for the office of the president. He ran again in 1995, and again received roughly 15% of the popular vote. In the last elections, Le Front Nationale won 14.9% of the popular vote but only one seat in the national assembly and no seats in the senate.

The support for Le Pen has historically come from the south and south-western parts of France, where his ideas concerning immigration and multiculturalism are better accepted. The debate about what the party actually stands for is very heated, so consider the two descriptions presented below:

Description by Le Front National

Aujourd'hui l'identité de la France est menacée par la vision mondialiste de l'établissement politicien. Face aux projets cosmopolites de mélange des peuples et des cultures, le Front National se veut le rempart de l'identité nationale. Loin de tout racisme ou de toute xénophobie, Jean-Marie Le Pen se bat pour défendre les Français pour que la priorité leur soit donnée par rapport aux étrangers et pour que leurs droits fondamentaux soient respectés.

Nowadays, the identity of France is threatened by the cosmopolitan view held by the political establishment. The Front National sees itself as the stronghold and bastion of national identity against cosmopolitan projects aimed at mixing peoples and cultures. Far from being racist or xenophobe, Jean-Marie Le Pen fights to defend the French people so that they are given priority over foreigners and so that their basic rights are respected. (Translation taken from the Front National website)

Description by Le Manifeste

Le FN et la démocratie sont incompatibles. Les quatre thèmes fondateurs du Front national ont pour but de faire voler en éclat l'idée de démocratie, l'identité de notre République, qui est, dans sa référence historique, la forme concrète qu'a pris la démocratie dans notre histoire ... Tout ce qui fait reculer le FN et ses positions néfastes pour la France est légitime. Le Pen et le FN ne doivent pas passer!

The FN is incompatible with democracy. The four founding themes of the Front National are contrary to the very idea of democracy and the identity of our republic which is, in historical context, the form that our democracy has taken during our history ... Everything done to hamper the FN and its nefarious ideas for France is legitimate. Le Pen and the FN must not succeed! (my translation)

The web site of the Front National is http://www.front-national.com, and that of Le Manifeste is http://www.multimania.com/manifeste/Nous/kesako.html

Personal disclaimer: I am not French, nor have I lived in France over the past twenty years. The information I have provided has been gathered from North American printed news sources and from the internet (and some limited discussion with French nationals). I would strongly encourage any French noders to jump in and offer their opinion or further facts concerning the Front National, and especially to help with my translation above.

This description is pretty accurate. However The Front National is almost a thing of the past : the 15% share of the population it used to get has now dwindled, due to its division in two parties, the Mouvement National, and the remaining Front National. The Mouvement National was founded by Bruno Megret, basically because he wanted to take Jean-Marie Le Pen's position and couldn't. Now those two parties have much less visibility in the media, as they both have a 5% part of the voting population, and as such get much less votes.

Or so it seemed at the end of 2001, when this writeup was created. If you followed the news around May 2002, you know Jean-Marie Le Pen made a surprising result in the French 2002 Presidential Election, where he got in the second round of voting, while everyone expected Lionel Jospin.

This result, which the pollsters had not foreseen, and as such came as a surprise to everyone, was due both to a good showing of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who got slightly more votes than usual, and the dispersal of left voters, who instead voted for the candidates of the Greens, of the Communist Party, or for the extreme left-wing Trotskyists.

However The French have shown they didn't want the Front National in power, as in the second round, an 80 % voter turnout didn't mean more votes for Le Pen, who ended with 18% of the vote, hardly an increase over his first round score.

Now Jean-Marie Le Pen is getting old and preparing his succession at the head of the Front National. He is setting up his daughter, Marine Le Pen, to become its leader. Her ideas are as hateful as her father's, but her looks are quite good ; she might remind Americans of someone else

One thing the official blurb of the Front National is that it is a party that kills. In 1995, as Jean-Marie Le Pen and his partisans were celebrating Joan of Arc on the first of may, as they do each years, a couple of skinhead participating in the demonstration pushed an Arab in the Seine, thus killing him. In 1996, three members of the party were putting up posters in Marseille for their beloved leaders ; a group of kids ran by, hoping to catch their bus. One of the three party members took a shot at them, killing a young Comorian.

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