Five years ago this month, I arrived in Paris to spend a few weeks writing about the 2017 French presidential election, in which Emmanuel Macron decisively beat Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally (formerly National Front). Five years later, it is once again Macron and Le Pen facing off in the final round, as determined by yesterday’s votes, and I am once again in Paris to watch the action unfold over the next two weeks. (French elections take place in two rounds: one with about a dozen candidates and a second, two weeks later, with the top two finishers.)
Last night, I stood with friends outside of the same Belleville bar where I’d watched the election results in 2017. Boos erupted from the crowd every time Le Pen appeared on the TV; cheers spread through the street whenever Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the left-wing candidate who ended up in third place, came on screen.
In 2017, Le Pen’s second-place finish shocked many spectators; in 2022, her top-two result was long considered a sure thing, and her chances of beating Macron in their rematch on April 24 are far greater than last time. In the hopes of providing some clarity as to how that shift has transpired over the past half-decade, I am sharing some of the writing I’ve done on the French far right in the intervening years:
The Next Generation of the French Far Right. Vice. October 1, 2020.
Trumpism in Europe. The Progressive. October 1, 2018.
As always, you can find the full archive of past newsletters here.