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After the Party

Trump, Le Pen, and the New Normal

Anne Sa'adah

Keywords: Democratic Party systems; French political parties; National Front; populism

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.

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