It is an indisputable fact that some of the founders of the National Front were linked with the Vichy regime, towards which they harbored a form of nostalgia. More than fifty years after its creation, the FN, renamed the National Rally, is working methodically and consistently to make it commonplace. And we have to admit that he succeeds. To the point of sparking tactical debates within the executive, as illustrated by the dispute of recent days between the president and his prime minister.
Factually, Elisabeth Borne is not wrong when she evokes the “Petainist” roots of the RN. But summoning the ghosts of history only works for a while. In this sense, Emmanuel Macron is politically right: in 2023, such arguments have no effect on public opinion. Firstly because the Lepenism of the 2020s no longer has much to do with that of the 1980s. Secondly because, with 88 deputies and prominent seats at the heart of many Assembly bodies, the RN is now training installed. Refocused by the extremism of Éric Zemmour, normalized by the positions of the Republicans on immigration, “notabilized” by the excesses of La France insoumise, the party of Marine Le Pen does not need to take much trouble. To rise in the polls and appear as the main opposition force, it just has to keep a low profile.
This situation will not last. The RN also has its contradictions, which could appear in broad daylight during the next deadlines, starting with the Europeans of 2024. It is in these moments, program against program, that we judge the effective solidity of a party and its leaders. In the meantime, the best way for the executive to fight the RN remains to obtain results and to argue on the merits.