JEAN-MARIE LE PEN
A Right-Wing Extremist and His Party
NEW: 2002 Update

Introduction
History
Racism and
Anti-Semitism
Range and Limits of Public Support


Printable VersionPrintable Version
Help ADL Fight Racism

Contribute to ADL
History

The roots of the Front National’s role in political life go back a long time in modern French history. One need only look back to the Dreyfuss case, one of the harshest chapters in European anti-Semitism before Hitler.
". . . pro—Nazi and racist publicists shaped Le Pen’s oratory,. . . . What he has more recently added . . . is the use of modern information technology"
It took the combined and dedicated efforts of a group of French intellectuals led by Emile Zola to fight the military and political establishments’ pillorying of the Jewish army captain and, after he had served a term in prison, to rehabilitate him. After World War I, in the ‘30s, the Croix de Feu movement under Col. de la Roque attempted to copy Hitler’s work across the Rhine, and after the war, the demagogue Poujade rekindled the right-wing xenophobic flame.

Fortunately, France’s revolutionary tradition captured in the words Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité prevailed to prevent any of these movements’ coming even close to power. Only in the war, under the Nazi occupation, did a Nazi-style regime take over in south-central France, where Hitler saw it to his interest to install a government doing his work. What is significant in this context is that there were leading French military and political personalities who lent themselves to this task. These men — Marshal Pétain, Pierre Laval and others — followed in the pattern that had been set long before.

Le Pen, who is presently 68 years-old, founded the Front National in 1972 as a coalition of extreme right-wing groups. Among those who made up the leadership team were men like the late convicted war criminal Pierre Bousquet, who edited the FN magazine Militant; Francois Brigneau, editor of the FN daily Present, who was a member of the Vichy militia during World War II, and Waffen SS member Jean Castrillo, the former editor of Militant.

These early pro—Nazi and racist publicists shaped Le Pen’s oratory, highlighted by morbid puns and phrases. What he has more recently added, with the help of younger men and women, is the use of modern information technology.
"He has also concentrated in the recent past on organizing working people, small shopkeepers, police and other professionals. . . .
[H]is efforts have been most successful in areas where immigrants. . . have been concentrated"
He has also concentrated in the recent past on organizing working people, small shopkeepers, police and other professionals. This is an effort to form FN groups to compete with mainstream professional associations and trade unions.

With Bruno Mégret, the Vitriolles Mayor’s husband, as the source of most of his political campaigning and organizing efforts, Le Pen has demonstrated substantial grass-roots support. Not surprisingly, his efforts have been most successful in areas where immigrants — mainly those from North Africa — have been concentrated: Marseilles, Toulon and other cities and towns in the Rhone delta region, and in suburbs of major cities, including Paris, where foreign workers live in large housing projects.
 

Next: Racism and Anti-Semitism


This report was published in April 1997

ADL Home Page | International Affairs Home Page
Search | About ADL | Contact ADL | Privacy Policy

© 2001 Anti-Defamation League