A timeline of the Front National


The Front National, or more accurately, the National Front for French Unity (Front national pour l’unité française) was launched on 5 October 1972. It brought together several far right groups operating in France, most notably Ordre Nouveau, and modelled itself on the fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI).


The FN polled just 0.5% in the parliamentary elections. Jean Marie Le Pen becomes its undisputed leader.


Le Pen polled just 0.8% in the Presidential elections.

1974 – 1980

Le Pen’s Front National and the Party of New Forces (PNF), a rival far right group involved in a fierce battle for dominance.


The FN failed the get the necessary nominations required to stand in the presidential elections.


The FN formed a right-wing alliance with the centre-right Rally for the Republic (RPR) and the centrist Union for French Democracy, for the municipal elections. Le Pen was elected to the council in Paris after securing 11% of the vote.


Le Pen’s FN polled 11% in the European elections and won 10 seats. Much of this success was put down to an impressive display in a TV debate.


The FN won 9.8% and 35 seats in the National Assembly elections, the first to be contested under PR. In regional elections, held on the same day, the FN won 137 council seats and secured representation on 21 of the 22 councils.


Antisemitic comments by Le Pen set the party back and, while it retained its share of the vote, the FN was reduced to just one seat in the National Assembly.

© Blandine Le Cain


The FN retained its 10 seats in the European Parliament, polling 11.7% in elections.


A change in the voting system mean that the FN did not win a single seat in the legislative elections despite winning 12.7% of the vote.


Between then and 1997, the FN won elections, and so the Mayoral position, in Toulon, Marignane, Orange and Vitrolles.


Bruno Mégret and his faction left the FN to form the National Republican Movement (MNR) after having lost an internal battle to get the party to form an alliance with the centre right. Partly as a consequence of this split, the FN slumped to 5.7% in he European Elections.


In a major political shock, Le Pen beat Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin to second place in the Presidential elections and so secure a second round run-off against Jacques Chirac. Over 1.5m took to the streets in protest and, while Le Pen was soundly beaten, the FN was now a political force.


A new electoral system saw the number of FN councillors halved in Metropolitan elections despite polling 15.1% of the vote, virtually the same as it had secured in 1998. This began a few years of relative decline for the FN.


Le Pen formed a pact with Bruno Mégret for the Presidential elections but still only polled 11%. A vote of just 4.3% in the legislative elections was the FN’s worst since 1981.


The FN rebounded for the Regional elections and polled 12% and gained 118 seats.


Jean-Marie Le Pen’s daughter, Marine Le Pen, takes over the leadership of the party and immediately seeks to tone down the party’s image and policies.


Despite polls suggesting Marine Le Pen was on course to top the vote in the first round of the Presidential election, she came third with 17.9%.


A year of unprecedented success. The FN won control of 12 municipalities in local elections and 1,546 and 459 councillors at two different levels of local government. The party topped the poll in the European Elections with 24.9% of the vote and took a third of the seats.