Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Catherine Poisson, Sarah Wiliarty

Major

French Studies, Government

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This study attempts to empirically investigate the causes behind the Front National’s surprising recent electoral success by analyzing the content of the party’s strategy of dédiabolisation, or “un-deviling”. Specifically, it focuses on determining the extent to which this strategy represents a simple programmatic moderation, a rebranding of its traditional extremist policies, or a more nuanced selective de-radicalization. Through a content analysis of shifts in party rhetoric between 2002 and 2014, several notable trends are uncovered. First, several explosive changes in the usage of specific words point to a reframing of immigration in terms of the allegedly immense societal and financial cost it imposes on French taxpayers, an adjustment in keeping with the party’s populist shift. Second, a striking rise in usage of negatively-charged words belies the view of the “new FN’ as a more moderate version of its former self.

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