Home News The French far-right National Rally has changed its name. Here’s how it...

The French far-right National Rally has changed its name. Here’s how it happened.


For decades, the National Rally has been a pariah in French politics — considered so dangerous that politicians from other parties refused to engage with its members.

This month, it became clear how much that has changed: RN (the party’s French acronym) Dominate the European Parliament electionsThe party defeated President Emmanuel Macron, who won a third of the French vote. Mr Macron quickly A surprise early election was held The powerful National Assembly is up for grabs, and opinion polls suggest the National Alliance may also be on track to win those seats.

Jordan BadellaThe party chairman is vying to become the country’s next prime minister, a feat that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. On Tuesday night, he will face off against two opponents, including Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, in a much-anticipated debate.

If his party wins a landslide victory in the election, Bardella would become prime minister, appoint the cabinet and block much of Macron’s domestic agenda. (Historically, the president still sets foreign and defense policy.)

How did the National Alliance evolve and completely reshape itself to the point where it is now closer to power than ever before?

Originally called the National Front, the party was founded in 1972 as the political wing of the New Order, whose members believed democracy was doomed to fail. Its members included former Nazi soldiers, Vichy collaborators and former members of a terrorist group that launched attacks to prevent Algeria’s independence from French colonial rule.

Its platform called for a restoration of conservative family values ​​and opposition to communism. Later, the party turned strongly against immigration.

The party’s founding chairman, Jean-Marie Le Pen, is an openly racist who says different races have “different abilities and different levels of historical evolution.” He has been convicted several times for making anti-Semitic comments. Publicly disparaging the Holocaustcalling the killing of Jews in gas chambers a “detail” of history.

Although the party has changed somewhat—eliminating anti-Semitic stances, for example—it still sees Frenchness or Frenchness as a nationality and draws a clear line between natives and non-natives. The party believes that French citizens should be given priority over non-residents in social benefits, subsidized housing and hospital treatment, even though many scholars believe this violates the French constitution and republican ideals.

“The constitution says that you can be French as long as you agree and follow the laws and the legacy of the Enlightenment — freedom of expression, civil rights for everyone,” said Jean-Yves Camus, co-director of the Observatory of Radical Politics at the Jean Jaurès Foundation. “French is not a people, it’s a set of values.”

Over the decades, other political parties Formation of the Republican Front – Calling on its members to vote strategically against the National Front. The most famous example was in 2002, when Le Pen made it to the second round of the presidential election and the left-wing party called on its members to vote for his conservative opponent Jacques Chirac.

Chirac was elected in a landslide, with Le Pen receiving less than 18 percent of the vote.

In recent years, as the Communist Party has gained more and more supporters, these strategies have begun to fail, partly because the country has changed and partly because the party’s image has shifted.

Le Pen’s daughter Marine came to power in 2011 and is committed to “De-demonize the partyShe distanced herself from her father’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, calling the concentration camps “barbaric to the extreme.” Slowly, she began trying to clean up the mess—even In 2015, she drove her father away —Although some party members Continue to be criticized for racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic remarks.

In 2018, Ms. Le Pen Party name change Rally across the country and expand its platform to include wallet issues.

Gilles Ivaldi, a professor of political science at Sciences Po in Paris, said the party was based on economic liberalism — calling for large-scale privatization, cuts to the civil service and income tax. The party realized that most of its early supporters were from the working class, so it began to shift its stance — proposing many of the policies often referred to as Related to the leftsuch as expanding public services.

in a Ipsos Reid-Sopra Steria poll A survey published in October showed that 44% of French respondents said they believed the National Rally was capable of governing.

In addition, the party migrant and crime Last year, the parliament Immigration Act Incorporating much of the content from the RN agenda, Although the country’s constitutional court blocked many of the policies soon after.

Some analysts say that despite the Republican overhaul, its racist views remain. “The scapegoats have now narrowed to Muslims and immigrants,” said Cécile Alduy, a Stanford University professor and Republican expert. “This is the DNA of the party — not seeing society and individuals as free beings, but seeing them by birth — their bloodline.”

Ms. Bardella, 28, whom Ms. Le Pen tapped as party leader for 2022, is a mild-mannered, well-dressed figure who embodies the Rally’s efforts to reshape its image. Notably, analysts and many supporters say he is not a member of Ms. Le Pen’s family, which continues to remind some voters of the party’s racist roots.

The son of Italian immigrants, Mr. Badella grew up in a Paris suburb slum packed with poor, mostly Muslim immigrants and their descendants. He has spun a story that the violence and drug dealing he witnessed as a child led him to support the party’s harsh anti-immigrant and anti-Islam policies, but that has been disputed by some who point out that he attended a fee-paying private school.

Mr. Bhadra has said that if he is elected Prime Minister, His first priority is to drastically reduce immigrationHe also expressed his desire to increase security measures to combat crime and cut taxes on all types of energy (gas, electricity, natural gas).

He vowed to stop undocumented people from getting free health care except in emergencies — part of his party’s goal to give French citizens more favorable treatment than foreigners, even those who have lived in France for years. He also promised to end automatic citizenship for children born in France to foreigners once they turn 18.

On the issue of safety, Badella promised to ban people with criminal convictions from public housing and cut government subsidies for families of young people who reoffend.

In the past week, Badella has postponed some of the party’s more expensive or controversial proposals. Although banning Muslims from wearing headscarves in public remains a long-term goal, Badella In an interview with Le Parisien This is not a short-term priority for the party. In addition, the National Alliance accused it of bias against the promise to privatize publicly funded media, which has been shelved for later implementation.

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