From FN to RN: this is how the far-right party became the leading French political force in 50 years

From FN to RN: this is how the far-right party became the leading French political force in 50 years
From FN to RN: this is how the far-right party became the leading French political force in 50 years

Created in 1972, the National Rally has evolved considerably. After a score of less than 1% in the 1974 presidential election, it became the leading party in France 50 years later.

More than fifty years after the founding of the National Front, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, which became the National Rally, has gone from marginality to commonplace at the ballot box, becoming France’s leading party.

Twenty days after the dissolution of the National Assembly on June 9, he is on the verge of power after having garnered around 34% of the votes in the first round of early legislative elections on Sunday.

The beginnings

The “National Front for French Unity”, a party formed from nationalist groups including Ordre Nouveau, was created on October 5, 1972. After a score of less than 1% in the 1974 presidential election, its president Jean-Marie Le Pen chose the fight against immigration as his priority.

National Front President Jean-Marie Le Pen is photographed on February 3, 1973 in Paris, during the electoral campaign for the legislative elections.

In 1983, first major electoral victory: Jean-Pierre Stirbois, general secretary of the FN, obtained 16.7% in the first round of the municipal elections in Dreux (Eure-et-Loir) and allied himself with the right in the second.

Three years later, proportional representation brought 35 FN deputies into the National Assembly.

In the 1988 presidential election, Mr Le Pen climbed to 14.37% of the vote, but the return to the single-member majority vote left him with only one female MP.

Jean-Marie Le Pen on April 21, 1988, during the presidential campaign

The detail”

In September 1987, Jean-Marie Le Pen described the Nazi gas chambers as “World War II history detail“. He was convicted in 1991. Other comments stigmatizing homosexuals, immigrants or Roma, according to him, served the progression of the FN.

From 1992 to 1998, the party took the cities of Toulon (Var), Marignane (Bouches-du-Rhône) and Orange (Vaucluse). In the 1995 presidential election, Mr. Le Pen obtained 15.15%. On May 1, on the sidelines of an FN parade, a Moroccan died in the Seine, pushed by skinheads.

2002 earthquake

Thunderbolt in 2002: Mr. Le Pen qualifies for the second round of the presidential election against Jacques Chirac with 16.86% of the vote. His daughter Marine becomes vice-president of the party.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, April 21, 2002, reacts after the announcement of the first estimates of the results of the first round of the presidential elections

In his last presidential election, in 2007, Jean-Marie Le Pen obtained 10.44%, his worst score since 1988. The FN also declined in the 2009 European elections (4.17%).

At the head of the party since January 2011, Marine Le Pen, with a strategy of “normalization” highlighting social issues, rose to 17.9% in the 2012 presidential election.
Marion Maréchal, his niece, becomes a member of parliament.

Marine Le Pen becomes the new president of the FN, January 16, 2011

After winning eleven town halls in 2014, the FN achieved a historic victory in the European elections (25%), far ahead of the UMP and the PS.

Father and daughter, nothing is going well

In the cantonal elections the following year, the FN was in the lead in 43 departments. But Mr. Le Pen repeated his comments on the gas chambers. At 87, he was expelled from the party.

In April 2017, after a debate that she admitted was “failed”, Marine Le Pen lost the presidential election against Emmanuel Macron. In the legislative elections, the FN obtained eight deputies.

At the end of June, Marine Le Pen was indicted in an investigation into parliamentary assistants of FN MEPs. A trial is scheduled for autumn 2024.

The FN becomes RN

Re-elected as its leader in 2018, Marine Le Pen wants to symbolise the “transformation” of the FN into a “party of government” and alliances: it becomes the National Rally (RN).

New first place in the 2019 European elections, with 23.3% of the votes.

In September 2021, Marine Le Pen handed over the reins to Jordan Bardella to focus on the presidential election. Her far-right rival, Eric Zemmour, took Marion Maréchal from her.

89 deputies

The 2022 presidential election marks a new failure against Emmanuel Macron. Nevertheless, with 41.5% of the vote, the far right has never come so close to power under the Fifth Republic. In the legislative elections that followed, the breakthrough was historic, with the RN becoming, with 89 elected representatives, the leading opposition group.

Historic score and shock dissolution

On June 9, Jordan Bardella’s list triumphed in the European elections with 31.36% of the vote, more than double the score of the Macronist list. In the process, Emmanuel Macron dissolved the Assembly.

We are ready to exercise power if the French people trust us in the future legislative elections.“, says Marine Le Pen. Jordan Bardella becomes the favorite for Matignon, but he warns that he will only accept becoming Prime Minister if he can have an absolute majority in the National Assembly.

Astonishment on the right: Eric Ciotti, president of the Republicans (LR) allies himself with the RN. His party tries to oust him and implodes.

Joint RN-LR candidates are announced in 70 constituencies. Marion Maréchal calls for a vote for them, consummating her break with Eric Zemmour.

rn national rally fn Le Pen Bardella



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