From Jean-Marie to Marine Le Pen: Electoral Change on the Far Right
In the first round of the 2012 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen drew a record score of 17.9% of the valid votes. Her success was attributed to the ‘de-demonization’ strategy she implemented to soften the party’s image, make it credible on other issues than immigration, and diversify its electoral audience. Survey data from 1988 to 2012 show a more complex picture. Marine Le Pen’s supports are ideologically and socially very similar to her father’s. The only difference is her larger audience among women, especially in the service proletariat. If this erosion of the traditional ‘radical right gender gap’ is confirmed, it could considerably enlarge the National Front’s electoral influence.