The Rise of French Populism: An Election in a Most Fractured Landscape
Number: 32

Populism is said to be the major new political trend. From Brexit to the election of Donald Trump in the United States, old ideas and conceptions of the Left and Right are being deconstructed before our eyes faced with populist mantras. The French presidential election of 2017 was a story of a pro-European, pro-business, globalist centrist candidate and underdog, Emmanuel Macron, defeating the favored right-wing candidate, decimating the Socialist left, and going on to win a super majority in the National Assembly, with a movement turned-party he only recently created. However, what is not told, are the populist elements and narratives, coopted by all candidates in the French presidential election, and how this aided Macron where it delegitimized most others. This paper analyses does just that, in exploring and analyzing populist narratives in all the major French presidential candidates’ campaigns, as well as the context and evolution of populist sentiment in contemporary France in general to better understand how we have arrived at this point, and perhaps to better understand the direction Macron will take France and Europe.


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