Donald Trump’s surprise victory and the National Front’s steady electoral gains are not the simple product of globalization and its discontents, nor are they a direct continuation of earlier populist movements in the US and France. Rather, both rest in significant degree on transformative political projects undertaken in recent decades to recast partisan politics in each country. Newt Gingrich adopted a radical strategy in order to break Democratic dominance in Congress, destroying norms of parliamentary conduct, pushing the Republican Party to the right, and roiling the party’s base. Bruno Mégret sought to position the National Front—through a dédiabolisation of its public image, an increase in its institutional capacity, attention to local politics, and opportunistic alliances—in such a way as to allow it to supplant the traditional conservative parties. These strategies changed the political landscape in the US and France. The results are likely to be durable.
Anne Sa’adah is the Joel Parker Professor of Law and Political Science at Dartmouth College. Her publications include Contemporary France: A Democratic Education (2003), The Shaping of Liberal Politics in Revolutionary France: A Comparative Perspective (1990), and “Sovereignty and Citizenship: The Old France and the New Europe” in Ideas and Ideals: Essays on Politics in Honor of Stanley Hoffmann edited by Linda Miller and Michael Smith (1993). E-mail: m.anne.sa’email@example.com