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Photo: “Meeting 1er mai 2012 Front National“, by Blandine Le Cain licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Reynié, Dominique. “The Specter Haunting Europe:” Heritage Populism” and France’s National Front.” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 4 (2016): 47-57.


Across advanced democracies, a new strain of populism of the right that combines hostility toward elites with opposition to the European Union, immigrants, and Islam, has emerged with force. Proponents of this “heritage populism” emphasize the protection of heritage, whether tangible (living standards) or intangible (ways of life). In France, the French National Front (FN) is the face of this new populist strain. This paper traces the evolution of the FN from a fringe party of the far-right to a mainstream party with growing broad-based appeal. The rise of the FN and the prospect that its leader, Marine Le Pen, may capture the presidency in 2017 represent an acute threat to liberal democracy in France and to the political stability of Europe generally.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.