Radical or Not So Radical?

Tactical Variation in Core Policy Formation by the Front National

in French Politics, Culture & Society

Starting from a number of general tenets about radical political parties, this article examines the Front National (FN) in relation to its core policy issue of immigration. To what extent has FN immigration policy been defined from the outset by its radicalism? Has that radicalism been constant or variable over time? And how far can a reciprocal influence be detected between the FN and the center Right in immigration policy formulation? Focusing on election campaigns, manifestos, and key moments in the FN's evolution, the article assesses how the party has tailored its radicalism to contextual factors and tactical considerations. It reveals an FN less bound to a fixed policy and more ready to seek accommodation (with circumstance, public opinion, or the center Right) than is generally acknowledged. Conversely, it also assesses how the FN's mobilization of strong support on the immigration issue has had radicalizing effects on the center Right. The article concludes by considering whether the change of leadership in January 2011 might confine the FN to the radical Right or see it adopt a more center-oriented course.

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