Politics on the Fringe

The People, Policies, and Organization of the French National Front

Politics on the Fringe

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 26 tables, 2 figures Published: July 1999

European Studies, History > European History, Politics > Political Science

Once a marginal political coalition, the French National Front has become the most high-profile far-right organization in Europe. In Politics on the Fringe Edward G. DeClair provides the first extensive analysis of the Front’s history, from its creation in 1972 and outcast status in the early 1980s to its achievement of broad-based support and show of political strength in the 1997 elections.

Using rare, in-depth interviews with twenty-nine members of the Front elite, as well as public opinion survey data and electoral results, DeClair examines the internal structure of the Front, its political agenda, and its growing influence in France. DeClair shows how the party has dramatically expanded its traditionally narrow core constituency by capitalizing upon anxieties about national identity, immigration, European unification, and rising unemployment. In illustrating how the rhetoric surrounding such topics is key to the Front’s success, DeClair examines the Front’s legacy by detailing the links between the French far-right and similar movements in such countries as Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, and the United States. Finally, Politics on the Fringe offers not only a complete picture of the Front’s increasingly influential role in French partisan politics but also further insight into the resurgence of right-wing extremism throughout western societies in the late twentieth century.

This volume will be of primary importance to political scientists and those engaged with European politics, culture, and history. It will also appeal to those concerned with right-wing populism and political movements.


Politics on the Fringe is simply the best book on the French National Front available in the English language. Intelligent, original, thoughtful, careful, and well-written, it is a marvelous mixture of primary and secondary research. Its insights into the minds and motives of the National Front and its supporters will undoubtedly serve as the foundation for our understanding of this important far right group for years to come.” — Anthony Messina, Tufts University

“The specter of right-wing populism presents a major challenge to the party systems of western Europe. By taking an empirically-based, ideologically-neutral approach to a very emotional subject, Politics on the Fringe offers a deeper understanding of the National Front and a greater insight into its internal organizational behavior.” — Vincent E. McHale, Case Western Reserve University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Edward G. DeClair is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Lynchburg College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Figures

List of Tables



1. The French Far Right: The Legacy of History

2. The Far Right Reappears: The Creation of the National Front

3. Initial Success: Election Victories in 1984 and 1986

4. Legislative Losses and Beyond

5. The Political Agenda of the National Front

6. The Leadership and Organization of the National Front

7. Voting for the National Front

8. The Far Right in Comparative Perspective



Appendix 1. Elected and Party Positions Held by Respondents in 1988

Appendix 2. Evolution of the National Front's Political Bureau



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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2139-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2237-5
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