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Defending the Nation: The Politics of Euroscepticism on the French Right

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Abstract:

France is a founder member of the European Community (EC) and it is difficult to envisage European integration having seen the light of day without the initial French presence and leadership. But equally, as a country with strong nationalist sentiments, a long history of nation-state construction and an assimilationist-minded imperialism, it is perhaps not surprising to find that pro-integrationist attitudes towards Europe have had to coexist with significant Eurosceptic feelings. This was apparent from the beginning, but the reality of differences over Europe was particularly apparent in more recent times in the 1992 referendum on the Maastricht Treaty. The 1992 campaign and results revealed a France divided in two, with forces on the political right (and, for that matter, the left) lined up in both Euro-camps simultaneously. This article focuses on the Euroscepticism of the right, as illustrated by the main party political strands which campaigned in the 1992 referendum for a 'no' vote: namely a distinct form of Gaullist nationalism, championed by political heavyweights such as Philippe S├ęguin and Charles Pasqua; national-populism, in the form of Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National (FN); and - somewhere in between these two forces - Villierism, a maverick political force that made some impact in the 1990s, but whose political future now rests in doubt.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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