chapter  5
The French mainstream and the Front National’s electoral fortunes
ByJoão Carvalho
Pages 18

This chapter analyses a growing discrepancy between increased levels of salience during the electoral campaigns and contracting levels of public concern and hostility towards immigration and integration. Considering the limits of institutional approaches towards the French context, the chapter explores the relationship between the Front National's (FN) electoral results at the presidential ballots and the agency of mainstream parties. The chapter emphasises contingent aspects of a successful accommodative strategy towards populist radical right (PRR)-type contenders and their dependence on public perceptions of effectiveness among competing candidates. It contextualises the FN's electoral development up until the 2000s and discusses its ideological cornerstones. The chapter explores patterns of inter-party competition at the 2002, 2007 and 2012 presidential ballots, and the potential causal linkages between those patterns and levels of electoral support for the FN. Finally, it assesses the overall relevance of Odmalm and Hepburn's hypotheses.