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Once a marginal political coalition, the French National Front has become the most high-profile far-right organization in Europe. In Politics on the Fringe Edward G. DeClair provides the first extensive analysis of the Front's history, from its creation in 1972 and outcast status in the early 1980s to its achievement of broad-based support and show of political strength in the 1997 elections. Using rare, in-depth interviews with twenty-nine members of the Front elite, as well as public opinion survey data and electoral results, DeClair examines the internal structure of the Front, its political agenda, and its growing influence in France. DeClair shows how the party has dramatically expanded its traditionally narrow core constituency by capitalizing upon anxieties about national identity, immigration, European unification, and rising unemployment. In illustrating how the rhetoric surrounding such topics is key to the Front's success, DeClair examines the Front's legacy by detailing the links between the French far-right and similar movements in such countries as Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, and the United States. Finally, Politics on the Fringe offers t only a complete picture of the Front's increasingly influential role in French partisan politics but also further insight into the resurgence of right-wing extremism throughout western societies in the late twentieth century. This volume will be of primary importance to political scientists and those engaged with European politics, culture, and history. It will also appeal to those concerned with right-wing populism and political movements.
Edward G. DeClair is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Lynchburg College.