Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement national party is pursuing a “normalisation” strategy to continue its political ascent after a seismic breakthrough in June parliamentary elections. Most recently, the party voted alongside President Emmanuel Macron’s party on a key cost-of-living measure in a bid to present its MPs as the picture of professionalism, ready to do the business of governing.
Two months on, the shockwaves still reverberate from the French parliamentary polls. Rassemblement National (National Rally or RN) won 89 seats – an outcome no polls and precious few experts had predicted; an unprecedented performance for an outfit that won just eight seats five years before as the Front National.
For many observers, this marked the end of the front républicain – the French phenomenon of mainstream voters turning out en masse against the far right in the second and final round of elections to keep it from power. As such, the legislative elections showed the success of the strategy Le Pen used upon succeeding her father Jean-Marie in 2011 – the “de-diabolisation” approach aimed at banishing the party’s image as neo-fascist rabble.