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Explaining regional support for national-populist parties.: The case of the FN in France.

Abstract : With a specific focus on the 2015 regional elections, this paper looks comparatively at the territorial dimension of FN national populist politics across two French regions, namely NPDCP and PACA, where the FN achieved its best electoral performances in 2015. Taking both the supply and demand sides of FN politics in France, it seeks to assess the salience and relevance of regional-identity frames of mobilization, and how these may shape the dynamics of FN support locally. Whilst a typical case of ‘national-populist party’, the Front national has recently diversified its strategies of electoral mobilization and organizational development at the subnational level, while also becoming increasingly embedded in local and regional politics. Distinctive patterns of regional identity politics reflect diverging strategies of mobilization as well as the presence of factions within the FN, which have a territorial basis along a North-South divide. Turning to the demand side of FN politics, the second section of this paper shows a positive relationship between the FN vote and the presence of specific socio-professional groups, i.e. farmers, blue collar workers and routine non manual employees, which have formed the bulk of FN support since the late 1990s. The analysis confirms the positive correlation between unemployment and FN voting, while also corroborating the negative relationship with immigration at the communal level. Looking at regional variation in the above patterns, we find the FN’s appeal to working class voters to be similar in both regions, although the effect is more heterogeneous in the south. In PACA, support for the FN is more positively associated with the level of income in the commune, which may attest to the weight of the party’s traditional petty-bourgeois constituency in the region. Finally, contrary to anticipation, the effect of unemployment is found to be significantly stronger in the Mediterranean south. Finally, looking at the presence of regionalized patterns of party competition and the competitive location taken by the FN across NPDCP and PACA. suggests two electorally disparate regions and distinct subnational party systems. In the north, the strategic emphasis by Marine Le Pen on socio-economic issues may be accounted for by the fact that competition for votes takes place essentially between the FN and the left. In the south, on the other hand, party competition is increasingly characterized by the opposition between the FN and the mainstream right, which may produce stronger incentives for the FN to focus on cultural issues of immigration and national identity. Despite regional differences, however, nationalism remains a strong ideological feature of the French Front National, which is rooted in a populist radical right ideology.
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Contributor : Gilles Ivaldi <>
Submitted on : Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 4:05:14 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 22, 2021 - 4:16:02 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01386088, version 1


Gilles Ivaldi, Maria Elisabetta Lanzone,, Jérôme Dutozia. Explaining regional support for national-populist parties.: The case of the FN in France.. Populism, Regionalism and Nationalism in Western European Party Mobilisation. The territorial Dimension, University of Lausanne, Sep 2016, Lausanne, Switzerland. ⟨halshs-01386088⟩



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