French youth and the far right: A budding love affair?

If he were able to vote, he would have chosen her rival, the candidate of The Republicans party, Xavier Bertrand. “The FN is racist. They hate Arabs, Black people, the Roma … They don’t want a multicultural France!” They are words we have gotten used to hearing from young people in elections going back a generation.

But how many, among tomorrow’s voters, still see the far right party in such stark terms? How many are prepared to stand in its way in the ballot boxes, or to take to the streets, like between the two rounds of the 2002 presidential election when Le Pen’s father, FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen made it to the runoff against Jacques Chirac? Is the French youth still as united against the Front National as it has been for so long? The short answer is: No.

In the first round of the regional elections this month, one-third of the votes of the 18 to 24-year-olds went to the FN, far in front of the center-left coalition (21%) and the center-right coalition (20%), according to a survey by Harris Interactive on Dec. 6.

In the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardy region, where the FN achieved its best results — 42.23% for Marine Le Pen, against 57.77% for the center-right winner, Xavier Bertrand — the younger generations, as diverse as they may be, seem to have something in common: great disillusionment towards traditional political parties.