From Political Fringe to Political Mainstream

The Front National and the 2014 Municipal Elections in France

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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The March 2014 municipal elections in France confirmed the electoral effectiveness of the Front national’s (FN) strategic reorientation under Marine Le Pen by validating the party’s organizational gambit to wrest local political control from the mainstream parties. This article analyzes the FN’s performance in these elections from the standpoint of political demand and supply. First, it elaborates the social, economic, and partisan conditions of political demand that have enhanced the party’s electoral traction among a growing segment of French voters. In turn, it focuses on the factors of political supply—notably the discursive and organizational aggiornamento undergone by the FN under Marine Le Pen’s leadership—by which the party has been able to expand its local appeal. The article then assesses what the electoral results bode for the FN’s positioning and status within the French party system, arguing that they herald its transformation from serving as a protest party to occupying a direct policymaking role.