Leila Le Mercier
Politics & Sociology
The Devil Can Quote Scripture for His Own Purpose - So-Called Dédiabolisation and the Strategies of the Front National to Seduce the Youth
The Front National (FN), a French far right-wing party born in 1972, reached the second round of the presidential election for the second time in 2017. Twenty-one percent of voters aged 18 to 24 voted for Marine Le Pen, the FN candidate (Ipsos, 2017). Like Jobbik in Hungary, the FN now relies heavily on the involvement and the vote of youngsters (Róna, 2014). The youth is both a means and an argument for these now powerful parties in the process of building themselves a new reputation. Therefore, my aim is to stress the important part played by the youth in the strategy of dédiabolisation of the public image of the party initiated by Marine Le Pen. Dédiabolisation could be translated as ‘de-demonisation’,and is defined as ‘moderation with the goal of granting the party republican legitimacy’ (Almeida, 2013: 168).Following the study and analysis of the party’s political agenda, of speeches and posters (or their ‘propaganda’, as they like to call it), I argue that the relationship between FN and the youth has considerably changed since Marine Le Pen came to power in 2011. While the FN has long remained a very taboo party, associated with old voters rather than young activists (except for a violent marginal group in the early 1970s legacy of the mother party, Ordre Nouveau), it is now more widely accepted as a legitimate party. I explore the turning point that took place in 2011when Marine Le Pen became president of the FN: young people were put forward in an effort to move away from Jean-Marie Le Pen’s past and his scandalous public statements.