France

Central to the French political context is the upcoming presidential election of April 2022, after five years of a government headed by President Emmanuel Macron. December 2021’s electoral polls announced that around 32% of the voters intend to put a ballot for one of the leading far-right candidates (M. Le Pen 16%, E. Zemmour 14%, N. Dupont-Aignan 2%) – to be compared with 18% shared among six left-wing candidates, 19% for V. Pécresse, candidate of the right-wing party Les Républicains (LR) and 23% for E. Macron. While polls remain uncertain, France surely witnesses a rise of the far-right in the political landscape as well as a worrying expansion of far-right themes, such as immigration, identity, and security, in the public debate beyond the scope of traditional far-right actors as exemplified during the debates for the primary of the right-wing party LR.

Current Situation 

Introduction

Introduction

Central to the French political context is the upcoming presidential election of April 2022, after five years of a government headed by President Emmanuel Macron. December 2021’s electoral polls announced that around 32% of the voters intend to put a ballot for one of the leading far-right candidates (M. Le Pen 16%, E. Zemmour 14%, N. Dupont-Aignan 2%) – to be compared with 18% shared among six left-wing candidates, 19% for V. Pécresse, candidate of the right-wing party Les Républicains (LR) and 23% for E. Macron. While polls remain uncertain, France surely witnesses a rise of the far-right in the political landscape as well as a worrying expansion of far-right themes, such as immigration, identity, and security, in the public debate beyond the scope of traditional far-right actors as exemplified during the debates for the primary of the right-wing party LR.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lock-down measures put an abrupt end to a wave of social protest, epitomising the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) movement in late 2018 and stretching throughout 2019 with convergence with social revendications of the climate movement, opposing Macron’s neoliberal agenda. Emmanuel Macron’s government has indeed been criticised for exacerbating social and economic inequalities (for example ending wealth tax while reducing housing benefits and wishing to reform the pension system) while simultaneously using authoritarian measures and laws, as shown by the repression of the social contestations/demonstrations of the last five years and more (the Yellow Vests but also in Notre-Dame-des-Landes…), and the “global security law” giving more power to the Police, for example.  

This combination of the propagation of antisemitic, anti-immigration, anti-Islam (amplified by the 2015 terrorist attacks), anti-“leftism” (and “anti-Islam-leftism”) discourses coming from the (far-)right end of the political spectrum, together with the accentuation of neoliberal-authoritarian turn of Macron’s government has led authors to speak about the current period a one of “fascination”, in which the figure of presidential candidate Eric Zemmour (to the right of Marine Le Pen) is a symbol.

Britain continues to occupy six counties in the north of Ireland, although it is believed this occupation will end at some point in the next few decades, following an agreement which will end British rule if a majority vote for it in a referendum. Within Britain, there have been repeated calls for Scottish and Welsh independence, which mean the breakup of the United Kingdom is a possibility, particularly after the death of the current Queen.

While nationalism, militarism and hostility to immigrants are rife, Britain is also one of the most socially progressive countries in the world, with many forms of oppressive behaviour criminalised. This tension over cultural attitudes is highlighted by the current arguments over trans rights, with some prominent British feminists adopting transphobic positions in response to a growing number of young people identifying as trans.

The current government’s frequent attacks on human rights are vocally opposed by large sections of the population who do not feel represented by those in power.

Parliamentary landscape

Parliamentary landscape

On the one hand, the French far-right is present and active on the parliamentary scene through political parties and figures running at the local, regional, national, and European elections. The popularity of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN), formerly known as Front National (FN), has significantly grown in the last decade, leading Le Pen to reach second place in the first round of the 2017 presidential elections with 21,3% of the votes behind Emmanuel Macron (24%) (17,9% in 2012). In both the 2014 and 2019 elections to the European Parliament, the FN/RN reached first place, with respectively 24,9% and 23,3% of the votes. Debout La France (DLF), led by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, is the second main party considered far-right. However, it only reached 4,7% in 2017, and its popularity has decreased even more since then. Les Patriotes (LP), created by Florian Philippot when splitting from the RN in 2017, has been electorally unsuccessful. Yet, it attempted to have a leading role in contesting the restrictive measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the French Parliament (Assemblée Nationale) counted nine far-right members out of 577 seats (6 RN members, two from Debout la France (DLF), and one non-affiliated). At the Senate, two members represent the far right (one RN and one DLF) out of 358. At the EU Parliament, the French far-right occupies 23 seats out of 79 dedicated to the country and out of 705 overall. The RN Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) are part of the Identity and Democracy (ID) group.

Despite its direct neo-fascist origins, the RN has engaged with a “de-demonization” strategy, especially since Marine Le Pen took over the party’s leadership in 2011. Moving away from the negationist and racist reputation of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party has managed to become more normalised and to gain legitimacy. The RN still uses an anti-Brussels and pro-sovereignty rhetoric but has dropped its wish for a “Frexit”, leaving these more Eurosceptic stances to smaller marginal parties such as F. Philippot’s LP or F. Asselineau’s Union Populaire Républicaine (UPR). Denouncing immigration and Islam has remained central to the RN. Still, the polishing of this discourse, too, has left a space for the (re-)emergence of less filtered rhetoric embodied by E. Zemmour and his supporters.

At the end of November 2021, E. Zemmour announced he would run for the presidential elections and created a party, “Reconquête !” in the following days, claiming 75,000 members by December 30. Journalist and TV columnist, his popularity surged as he started appearing on the channel CNews in 2019, where he was given a daily platform for his xenophobic speech. He has been convicted for racial discrimination (2011) and for incitement to hate towards Muslims (2018), as the amalgam between immigration, Islam, and crime is a constant theme. His sudden success can be both explained by a self-feeding media bubble and hype around the speculation of his candidacy, but also because he aims to gather a broad right-wing electorate around his fascist rhetoric of ethnicity-based re-generation of the greatness of the French nation currently devastated by uncontrolled non-white immigration. E. Zemmour is also known for his misogyny and opposition to same-sex marriage.

The other side of the far-right coin takes place in the extra-parliamentary scene. The porosity between the two is evident, with actual revolving doors between activism and positions in the parties (Damien Rieu, for example, founder of Génération Identitaire, RN candidate at local elections, and parliamentary assistant of RN executives). Most importantly, the extra-parliamentary far-right contributes to the diffusion of far-right discourses and violence.

Extra-parliamentary landscape

Extra-parliamentary landscape

Far-right groups proliferate and thrive outside of the parliamentary arena. On the more presentable side, one finds a variety of conservative think tanks and institutes that mainly aim to spread knowledge and intellectually train both the young and adult public through seminars, colloquiums, publications, and the like (Institut Iliade, Institut de Formation Politique (IFP), Carrefour de l’Horloge, Polémia…). Marion Maréchal (ex-Le Pen) founded a private graduate school in Lyon (ISSEP). This sphere believes in the need for a cultural battle to induce change at the political level.

Others advertise themselves as youth organisations and host regular events and summer camps (Academia Christiana, Action Française, Génération Identitaire formerly…). Most groups organise themselves into local sections, and some even have premises with a bar or sports training room (boxing) and attempt to get attention through symbolic actions (blocking a border, occupying a mosque, banner drop…). Even if national or local groups are punctually dissolved, the same activists usually reunite under another name and continue their activities (for example, the Groupe Union Défense (GUD), then Bastion Social). These political groups can also take the shape of a student union, such as in the case of La Cocarde Étudiante implemented in several universities. Some activists of these groups are also active in street activism, assaulting left-wing activists as well as trade unions and antifascist premises.

Whether these groups are identitarian, royalist, or catholic-fundamentalist, they function as a network and share an ethnic-nationalist ideology, opposing immigration and Islam perceived as a part of an invasion of a territory where they do not belong. These motivations are often combined with homophobia and transphobia, perceived as a threat to the family core and thought of as the means for the perpetuation of heritage and identity. Conspiracy theories such as “the Great Replacement”, which denounces a supposed replacement of the European peoples by a non-white Muslim population, are often celebrated. Therefore, it is unsurprising that many see a providential candidate in E. Zemmour and his “remigration” discourse. His first political meeting on December 5th, 2021, included a compilation of far-right groups and figures. It resulted in the violent assault of anti-racist activists who were conducting a peaceful action.

The extra-parliamentary far-right goes way beyond formal groups. Hooligans organise fights among each other and celebrate Nazi symbols. Violent groupuscules are also on the rise, and ultra-right terror has become a high source of concern for the authorities as they foiled several attacks in recent years. Journalists have also revealed the presence of non-isolated neo-Nazis in the army as well as the banality of racist and antisemitic comments among some Policemen. In April 2021, former army generals published a tribune to urge President Macron to counter militarily the downfall of France due to immigrants and antiracism. Other radical groups move towards survivalism, aiming at creating white autonomous communities to prepare for a civilisation crash induced by an inevitable racial war that has already started. The accelerationist doctrine even advocates for racial-based violence to “accelerate” its occurrence and begin anew.

Social media undoubtedly play a significant role in both the radicalisation of individuals and the structuration of groups (Telegram, Discord, Twitter, Gettr…). Youtubers such as Papacito and Baptiste Marchais constantly joke about violently targeting leftists, and others use communication platforms to directly call to murder specific politicians or journalists. But far-right narratives can also count on a wide range of media outlets to disseminate and normalise them: magazines such as (Boulevard Voltaire, Présent, Éléments, Causeur, L’Incorrect, Valeurs Actuelles…), radio channels (Méridien Zéro, Radio Courtoisie…), web TV (TV Libertés…), “re-information” websites (Novopress, Riposte Laïque, Dreuz…); to mention a few.

International relationships

International relationships

On a parliamentary level, Marine Le Pen mainly attempts to ally with her European counterparts from nationalist parties (especially Poland, Hungary, and Italy), as they share a common vision of a European Union of sovereign nations. In a similar mindset, antisemitic activist Yvan Benedetti collaborates with other nationalist entities or micro-parties in Europe. On an extra-parliamentary level, many formal and informal connections take place.  The identitarian movement has spread in Europe, and branches of Génération Identitaire (dissolved in 2021 in France) are still active in Austria, Denmark, and Belgium. These and similar groups usually help each other out by participating in each other’s events and relaying information. They also get inspiration from each other, just as the Bastion Social and its heirs copied the celebrated model of the neo-fascist organisation CasaPound in Italy. Others try to build a European-wide network, such as the white supremacist Daniel Conversano and his Les Braves organisation. More formally, Marion Maréchal has, for example, created partnerships and branches of her graduate school in Madrid, hand in hand with neo-Francoists close to Vox, Santiago Abascal’s party, but also in Poland, Russia and Lebanon. More generally, the Nouvelle Droite movement started in the late 1960s. It advocated a battle of ideas opposing both liberalism and capitalism and promoting a very organicist vision of the society, which has found intellectual resonance at the European level and beyond (especially in Italy and in Germany).

Antifascist landscape

Antifascist landscape

The antifascist movement is still marked by the recent death of the antifascist activist Clément Méric in 2013 during a fight caused by neo-Nazis of Serge Ayoub’s Jeunesses Nationales Révolutionnaires (JNR, dissolved afterwards). The Antifa movement is organised into local independent groups. In 2018, the Jeune Guarde was created in Lyon, intending to take back the streets and reflect on a more inclusive antifascist struggle, giving a new youth kick and emphasising an anti-capitalist standpoint – it counted five sections in December 2021. La Horde regularly reports on the far-right at a national level and relays information from local sections. It is also known for its yearly map of far-right actors and campaigning material. Antifascist activists are at the forefront of far-right monitoring and opposition and can rely on allied local media to publish their findings. A more formal structure, the National Observatory of the Far-right (ONED), was founded in 2020 around politicians, academics, syndicalists, and activists. It aims to monitor the far right and produce informative literature.

Another hub of antifascist action lies in trade unions. Symbolic antifascist actors work towards more training and information campaigns against far-right discourses. Sexist, racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic ideas can only divide the already weakened labour force and are in clear opposition to the anti-capitalist struggle against the dominant classes, a struggle based on values of solidarity and equality. VISA (Vigilance et Initiatives Syndicales Antifascistes) is a national intersyndicalist organisation that gathers about a hundred unions. It conducts syndicalist antifascist training and documentation. The organisation works closely with the internal working groups in the fight against the far right in the professional world at the CGT, one of the leading trade unions, and at Solidaires, which is also engaged in the counter-far proper fight.

Additionally, academics such as Nonna Mayer, Nicolas Lebourg, Jean-Yves Camus, Jean-Paul Gautier, Michel Winock, and Stéphane François, to mention a few, have in the last decades produced critical historical analysis of the French far-right, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary.

Reports

Quarterly Reports

Quarterly reports give in-depth insights into the most pressing recent social and political developments in each country as they pertain to the local far-right networks and their international allies.

France - September 2022
France - September 2022

National scene
September was marked by the “summer universtities” of the two main French far-right parties. First, Reconquête, Eric Zemmour’s party, held a weekend gathering between September 8-11th, aimed at fostering member’s involvement and cohesion through convivial activities, workshops and talks from executives from the party. On a similar model, Rassemblement National held its summer university version the following weekend. Marine Le Pen specifically aimed at providing training for the newly elected 89MPs and made it clear that the next aim is the victory at the next 2027 elections. To that end, the party wants to invest into institutionalising political training for executives. Immigration and energy prices were predominating themes.
Unsurprisingly, both the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary far right have praised and congratulated the respective successes of the far-right parties at the latest elections in Sweden and Italy, hoping to be able to ride this far-right waves themselves.
Transnational connections
Les Braves, the white communautarist white supremacist network created by Daniel Conversano has opened a new section in Estonia, as part of its aim to build connected groups throughout Europe.
Polemia, Jean-Yves Le Gallou’s foundation for “re-information” published this month an interview of the German AfD candidate Stefan Marzischewski-Drewes, running for the upcoming regional elections early October in lower Saxony.
In the meantime, the writings of Alain de Benoist, prominent figure of the French New Right (Nouvelle Droite), keeps being translated into Italian (see picture), and was invited for a discussion in Catania on September 30th at the museum Ursino Castle (see picture).
Another transnational connection is to be observed in the importation to France from the USA of “Active clubs”. Closely connected to Rob Rundo, a US American white supremacist and co-founder of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a violent MMA group with members convicted after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, and currently in Serbia. He runs the Telegram channel Activism, Athletics, Identity – a good summary of his interests –, but also an online clothing and accessories store with the brand “Will to rise”. In his legacy, Active Clubs have emerged in France since April 2022, claiming to be present in Rouen, Grenoble, Paris, Nimes, Chalon-sur-Saone, La Rochelle, Caen, Valence, Marseille; with pictures shared on Rundo’s channels. The main activities revolve around fighting and training, which is already a transversal occupation for many locally implemented far-right groups. For example, the Active Club Valence is connected to the existing group Valence Patriote (see picture), itself a support of Eric Zemmour during the last presidential elections.

France - August 2022
France - August 2022

National scene
Summertime is always an occasion for far-right groups to gather their members for a summer camp or “university”. Academia Christiana, the fascist identitarian-catholic youth organisation, held its yearly summer gathering on August 22nd-27th. They claim that 250 participants attended the event. The days were structured around conferences, sports, artistic and journalistic activities and community building around the themes or identity and sacredness, aimed at giving an impulse to local activism. Among the lecturers, the identitarian Julien Langella, former RN personality and president of the youth section of the party between 2012-2014 Julien Rochedy (he is now invested in writing philosophical essays while promoting a conservative vision of masculinity), the lawyer used to giving presentations to far-right groupuscules Thibault Mercier and without surprise the Abbot Matthieu Raffray, very active in the movement. The camp took place in Précigné, Pays de la Loire. The last day was an open day attended by many local identitarian organisations from all over the country. Action Francaise, historical monarchist nationalist organisation also held the 70th edition of its yearly youth camp Maxime Real Del Sarte (CMRDS) between August 21st-28th, close to Roanne, Rhone-Alpes with similar activities and the same objectives: political and physical training. They revendicate 350 participants and had two parallel days of “summer university” dedicated to older activists. Among the lecturers, Bernard Lugan from the Insitut Iliade circles, just as Guillaume Travers who however lectured at the Academia Christiana one. Jeune Nation, Yvan Benedetti’s antisemetic organisation’s nationalist youth camp also took place, on July 11th-17th, with a similar program-motto “training, camaraderie, sports”. Last but not least the traditionalist catholic organisation Civitas held its 4th “summer university” named “Real Country”, with a reported number of 270 participants. It took place in Dieppe, Normandy, on August 13th-15th. The goal? Fight the “globalist oligarchy” and the “Great reset” of which the Covid-19 pandemic is a tool. Despite the limited outreach of such events, their impact should not be underestimated. They constitute key social cohesion gatherings, most often aimed at training the youth, meeting and exchange platforms aimed at stimulating engagement, new local groups as well as new projects in line with the broader goal of defending a white French/European identity and consequently oppose what would come in the way.
Transnational connections
On August 9th,the International Indigenous Peoples’ Day, several European far-right groups, some coordinated or some independently, reclaimed this celebration to denounce the supposed decline of white Europeans, considered as the “indigenous” people of Europe, and the only minority “denied the possibility of claiming an identity and preserving an ethnic and cultural homogeneity”. A white supremacy com-event joined at least by neo-fascist Auctorum Versailles from on the French side.
Moreover, neo-fascist Luminis Paris also took part in the action… from Serbia, as two of their members report to have visited Belgrade but also Novi Sad “key historical city against ottoman invasions”. The were welcome by “Serbian comrades” from the Zentropa community and claim to have learnt on Serbian issues as well as shared methods from training and action.
Daria Dugin’s death, daughter of Eurasia theorist Aleksandr Dugin, on August 20th triggered an rather unanimously wave of commemoration among the French far right. Despite the disagreements with her father, especially on the topic of Islam, she appears as a symbol of ultranationalist fervour and it is her political engagement that is praised. Moreover, she studied in Bordeaux in the early 2010’s and met Marion Maréchal ex-Le Pen during her time in France, and is reported to have supported the wider Le Pen family for electoral purposes.
In the meantime, Daniel Conversano’s Les Braves continues on promoting Patriotic Alternative’ events such as their summer camp. On a similar continuity, Institut Iliade pursues its European reachout by being presented to a Greek audience this time, on the nationalist Webtv Eleftheros Kosmos.

France - June 2022
France - June 2022

Electoral scene
On Jun 12th and 19th, legislative elections took place in France to elect the MPs to the National Parliament. To general surprise, even the one of Rassemblement National (RN) itself, RN candidates obtained 89 seats (out of 577). In 2017, the RN only obtained 8 seats, being therefore unable to form a group (15 MPs minimum). This unexpected success gives them more political and financial power while bringing about new and old RN faces into the political arena. This testifies to the continued normalisation and mainstreaming of the party, as Macron’s party, which ended up losing its majority in the parliament, had based their campaign on the narrative of fighting both extremes, equalising and instrumentalising the “threat” posed by the far right and the left-wing coalition finally set up for these elections. In the cases when the left-wing coalition was directly competing with the RN at the second round, Macron’s party was, therefore, reluctant to clearly call to hinder RN candidates’ victories. Moreover, one can higher the number of far-right MPs to 91 with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (DLF) and Emmanuelle Ménart, supported by the RN, renewing their mandates. However, Reconquête!, Éric Zemmour’s party failed to obtain a single seat.
Extra-parliamentary scene
In early June, four neo-Nazis from Alsace were arrested and charged after a Police operation. An enormous number of weapons and ammunition. Holocaust denialist and antisemitic literature was found, and one of the suspects is reported to have close connections with the identitarian group La Meute from Québec, Canada.
On June 11th 2022, Institut Iliade continued its European “tour”, after their Spanish event in May. They gave a presentation talk in Florence, Italy, with the collaboration of their partner publishing house Passaggio al Bosco, which has in the past translated Institut Iliade’s publications. In late May, Italy had already seen the visit of both Luminis Paris, a neo-fascist groupuscule, to visit Casapound activists in Rome, and the one of the student union Cocarde Étudiante to protest in Torino against EU institutions together with their allies from Fuan Torino. In Spain, neo-fascist Tenesoun from Aix-en-Provence met with the activist of Bastion Frontal.
On another note, Polémia, the think-tank close to Institut Iliade through its founder Jean-Yves Le Gallou, missioned and published an interview of Joana Cotar, and AfD MP, mainly on the theme of immigration. La Hallebarde, advertised as a “satirical magazine” from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, organised its first conference with two French guests: Jean-Eude Gannat, form Alvarium together with Abbot Matthieu Raffray, close to Academia Christiana and more generally to the ultra-conservative traditional catholic scene. The theme of the evening was: “how to take action for our own people?” and took place on June 18th in Lausanne.

France - May 2022
France - May 2022

National developments
In the aftermath of the presidential elections, parliamentary elections will take place in June. Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Debout la France) and Florian Philippot (Les Pratriotes), two Frexiters who have surfed the anti-vax wave, will maintain their alliance for the upcoming ballot, among other candidates who are bringing brown-tainted covid-conspiracies to the electoral arena (on the close overlap between conspiracists and the far right, see this detailed investigation from Extracteur). Unsurprisingly, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National’s candidates are still not “de-evilised” nor “normalised” as planned; rather, they are still spreading hateful and racist messages, conspiracy theories and/or are known for violent behaviours and/or an Identitarian past. More of these profiles are to be found among Reconquête’s candidates, which have at least no intention to hide it. Marion Maréchal (ex-Le Pen), after joining Éric Zemmour’s ranks in early March this year and becoming an executive vice-president of the party, is now campaigning for the legislative elections, together with Stanislas Rigault, head of the youth branch of the party, in an area where she was elected as an MP in the past, and where Reconquête had reached higher scores than the national average at the first round of the presidential elections. Marion Maréchal has therefore announced that she will leave the direction of her graduate school ISSEP in Lyon, in order not to keep the “impartial” – a clear hoax as her successor, Thibaut Monnier, has a long personal and professional history of being connected to Front National and more recently with Zemmour.
In the extra-parliamentary scene, the far-right continues to be present and violent in the streets. Antifascist groups report several violent events for example 1st May demonstrations in several cities, or at a pro-migrant demonstration in Angers, or simply attacking a migrant-help organisation in Paris. On this note, Street Press has shown how the far right has violently tried to gain terrain at the universities through student organisations in the last years. May is also the yearly occasion to commemorate the death of a far-right activist Sébastien Deyzieu, who died in unclear circumstances after a heated unauthorised demonstration organised by far-right groups on May 7th 1994 to protest against the 50th anniversary of American troops landing in Normandy. He died from his injuries two days later, on May 9th, which led to the creation of a May 9th Committee, “C9M”. This commemoration is still symbolically organised by a few (newer) groups in Paris. May 8th sees another type of yearly commemoration, the one of Joan of Arc by traditionalist Catholics, such as Action Française or Civitas.
Transnational Political and Financial Cooperation
Meanwhile, in Budapest, which has become a hub for far-right gatherings, two conservative conferences took place. First the “CPAC Hungary 2022” on May 19-20. This Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is an offspring of the American Conservative Union (ACU) and was co-organised by the Hungarian organisation Center for Fundamental Rights. It was advertised as the following: “the first occasion that this major American political franchise arrives on the Continent. The American Conservative Union has for some time been looking for ways to bring CPAC to Europe, and over recent years, the conviction grew that Hungary, as one of the engines of Conservative resistance to the woke revolution, was the natural place for it.” It testifies to a rising influence of American conservatism and its entry into the European conservative spheres, for which Viktor Orban’s Hungary is a symbol. The program of the two days was organised around these 8 themes: Western civilisation under attack; In God we trust; Culture wars in the media; The father is a man, the mother is a woman; Conservative revival; Homeland, Security; CPACs all around the world; United we stand, divided we fall. A variety of speakers from the Americas and several European countries participated, including Viktor Orban, Eduardo Bolsonaro, and Tucker Carlson… For France, Jordan Bardella, temporary president of Rassemblement National (RN) gave a speech, as well as Gregor Puppinck, director of the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an international Christian conservative non-governmental organisation founded in 1998 in Strasbourg by Jay Alan Sekulow and Thomas Patrick Monaghan. Jay Sekulow was one of Donald Trump’s lawyers and has been a central person in the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Christian ultra-conservative organisation, from which the ECLJ was born. The ACLJ is reportedly a key organisation financing the European far right, and, as investigated by Le Monde, the ECLJ and its director Gregor Puppinck have strongly supported the anti-LGBT+ rights and pro-life movement Manif pour tous.
Gregor Puppinck makes the perfect transition to the second conservative event that took place on May 26-27, as he also participated as the director and representative of ECLJ: the Transatlantic summit IV, organised by the Political Network for Values, an “a transcontinental platform in favour of life, family and fundamental freedoms as a space of encounter and exchange of reflections and best practices.” Citizen Go is part of the sponsoring organisation. The conference focused on the themes of Life, Family and Freedom.
Transnational Activities & Group Interactions
Insitut iliade co-organised together with the think tank Cercle Aristote and the Spanish student organisation Revolutio, an event on the theme of Sovereignty and Reconquest, on the occasion of the commemoration of the battle of Covadonga in 722, a symbol of the Reconquista. The event took place on May 27th in Ovideo, Spain. The main speakers were Philippe Conrad (president of the Institute), Pierre Yves Rougeyron (Cercle Aristote) for the French side, and José Javier Esparza and Eduardo Arroyo for the Spanish side. In November 2021, José Javier Esparza and Philippe Conrad already jointly participated in a presentation of the Institut Iliade event in Madrid. Lastly on Institut Iliade, despite a supposedly intellectual presentable façade, they openly chose the French white supremacist Daniel Conversano living in Romania’s Youtube show “Vive l’Europe” for the presentation and promotion of the Institute.
Back to France. On May 6th, Auctorum Social, the neofascist catholic-identitarian organisation in Versailles, organised a conference with members of the Italian Blocco Studentesco, the neofascist “student block” born from Casa Pound in 2006. Some Italian activists were there to present the “history and objectives” of the organisation. More generally on Italy-France relationships, Mediapart published an article on the historical influence of the Italian far right on the French one.
On May 7th, Yvan Benedetti’s Jeune Nation and Les Nationalistes organised a one-day event “Forum of Nation and Europe – NATO – out of Europe” in Paris. The event was organised under the sponsorship of Alliance Fortress Europe and Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF). Participants included representatives from Germany, Romania, Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria, Portugal, the UK, Greece, Italy and Belgium. This event takes place only a week after the Fortress Europe congress in Dortmund, Germany, on April 30 and May 1st, where they all demonstrated together.

France - April 2022
France - April 2022

National developments
On April 10th and 24th, the presidential elections took place. At the first round, the podium was held by E. Macron (27,85%), M. Le Pen (23,15%) closely followed by left-wing candidate J-L. Mélenchon (21,95%). Just like in 2017, the duo Macron – Le Pen was competing in the second round, leading to the renewed victory of E. Macron with 58,55% of the votes, with M. Le Pen reaching 41,45%, a higher score than in 2017 (66,10% and 33,90%), and roughly 2,5 million extra votes. Despite the obvious “victory” of Rassemblement National, sealing its position as a strong political force, it is interesting to notice the failure of Eric Zemmour to embody the gathering force he promised on the right, as his party Reconquête! only achieved 7,07% of the votes. In spite of this lower score than excepted given the overwhelming media attention his candidacy received, he ranks 4th at the first round, significantly ahead of traditional parties such as the right-wing Les Républicains (LR) (4,78%) and left-wing Parti Socialiste (PS) (1.75%). It is moreover important to note that, at the first round, the three far-right parties received 32,38% of the votes, compared to 26,92% in 2017 – a telling number despite a different political context and different candidates then.
Transnational developments
On April 2nd, the identitarian think tank, heir of the Nouvelle Droite, Institut Iliade held its yearly colloquium titled “Restoring the political: Identity, sovereignty and the sacred”. It featured speakers such as Alain de Benoist, Renaud Camus, Paul Marie Couteaux, Julien Rochedy and Michel Maffesoli, but also notably Martin Sellner, head figure of the identitarian movement in Austria. He was announced to be a representative of GegenUni, an online educational organisation connected to the New Right in Germany. He participated to the panel “Training the elites and the executives of the European and French rebirth”.
On April 20th, Thaïs d’Escufon, former head figure of the French branch of Generation Identity, went to give a lecture in Leuven in Belgium to the Flemish identitarian student group “NSV” (for Nationalist Student Association) (see pictures). She poses with the symbols of the organisation and claims that her talk contributes to the training of the European identitarian youth.
The French far right as also made appearances in the European press. For example, here is an article on the Institut Iliade, with an interview of Thibaut Gibelin, contributor to Éléments, the magazine of Alain de Benoist. Here is an article in English from The European Conservative where Victor Aubert from Academia Christiania is being interviewed by David Engels, a Belgian historian, also speaker to Institut Iliade’s colloquium and affiliated to the Instytut Zachodni in Poznan.
This month, Les Braves and Patriotic Alternative (UK) have renewed their collaboration by publishing an article presenting and praising Patriotic Alternative on Les Braves, after the reverse was done earlier this year. Les Braves also made publicity for Europa Invicta and its yearly online counter-Eurovision song contest, under the banner of “make Eurovision European again”.
The student union Cocarde Etudiante, in line with its announced partnership with two other student unions in Italy and Spain, has released the first article translate to French from Italian, aiming at presenting the situation in Italy to the French audience.
Continuing the “solidarity missions” to help Ukraine, far-right groups have organised another collect and trip to Lviv. The name remains “Mission Medyka” and has been joined by two new actors, on top of Helix (Dijon), Luminis (Paris) and Bordeaux Nationaliste: Amiens Nationaliste and Bayonne Nationaliste, (see picture). This echoes with other enterprises of showing support to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees from far-right actors using the war for their narrative of the need to defend white European peoples against the invaders. In March, Generation Identity Denmark celebrated the collaboration of Europeans activists from France, Hungary, Germany and Denmark to bring supplies to Ukrainian refuges, (see picture). StreetPress has investigated how several French far-right groups have used “humanitarian” actions as a communication strategy since the start of the war.
Lastly, Ouest Casual shared a photo showing a pinned picture of Dominique Venner, French identitarian thinker and writer of the Nouvelle Droite, supposedly from the wall of a military base of the Azov regiment in Mariupol, Ukraine, (see picture).

France - March 2022
France - March 2022

Key developments
On March 6, Marion Maréchal (ex-Le Pen), niece of Marine Le Pen and grand daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen has officially rallied Éric Zemmour and his campaign – and was therefore the star of his campaign event in Toulon that day. Despite a clear betrayal of her aunt, her closeness with the identitarian wing and her ambition to contribute to the project of “gathering the rights” (rather, gathering the far rights) has been known for years. In 2019, even though Marion Maréchal was officially retired from party-politics and occupied with the management of her graduate school in Lyon (ISSEP), she participated to the Convention of the Right, along with Éric Zemmour where topics of anti-Islam, anti-immigration and “great replacement” dominated the speeches.
Furthermore on the electoral front, Éric Zemmour’s popularity has dropped since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, because of his historical Putin-friendly positions and statements. The polls clearly show that Marine Le Pen is benefitting from this situation, as she managed to swipe away her similar Putin-friendly history by focusing on purchasing power discussions, even more central since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Nevertheless, on March 23, Éric Zemmour went one step further in his ambition of “immigration zero”: he announced that if elected he would create a “ministry of remigration” and expel 1 million foreigners over 5 years. Some days later, he gathered many trends of the far right at the Trocadéro, Paris when he held a campaign meeting. Lastly, Nicolas Dupont Aignan, third far-right candidate to the Presidential elections, has been rallied by Florian Philippot, who had however first unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate joining Zemmour’s ranks.
On March 22, Valeurs Actuelles, initially a right-wing conservative newspaper which today constitutes a favourite outlet for far-right journalists and topics, organised a political “debate” with over 3000 attendees plus a YouTube livestream audience. Difficult to speak about a “debate” when 5 out of the 6 invited speakers belong to the (far) right. Among the public, the far-right social media personalities Thaïs d’Escuffon and Baptiste Marchais were there to support their candidate, Éric Zemmour. This event was co-sponsored by the social media Gettr favoured by the far-right and close to the US conservatives, and Odea travelling agency, partner of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (accused of being connected to war crimes in Syria).
The extra-parliamentary far right has specifically made the news this month as the Argentinian rugby player Federico Martín Aramburú was murdered in an open street in Paris on March 19. The primary suspects are two figures of the far right, known for their violence: Loïk Le Priol and Romain Bouvier. The events of the March 19 remain unclear at this point, however several newspapers have reported that the shootings happened as a result of Aramburú, and his friend Hegarty, standing up to denounce racist comments made by Le Priol and Bouvier. This scene first led to a fight at the bar where the scene took place. As Aramburú and Hegarty were leaving, they were caught by Le Priol and Bouvier, arriving by car, who shot at them. Both suspects are former members of the Groupe Union Défense (GUD), a far-right violence student organisation founded in 1968 and self-dissolved in 2017, becoming Bastion Social (itself dissolved by the French government in 2019). They were both already known by the justice mainly because of the extremely violent joint assault of a former GUD leader in 2015 – for which they were meant to be judged next June. Le Priol is also the founder of clothing brand proudly worn by far-right personalities in the past. He was arrested when he tried to cross the Hungarian-Ukrainian border on March 23, and claimed he was on his way to Ukraine to fight.
In the meantime, on March 30, the French government has dissolved the Antifascist group GALE (Groupe Antifasciste Lyon et environs), which constitutes the first dissolution of a “far-left” group since 1982 – a decision that GALE will contest. The reasons are surely political, but formally it is on the bases of incitement to violent actions and calls for hatred towards the police forces that the dissolution took place. This decision is unsurprisingly controversial, in a context of upcoming presidential elections while Lyon is known for being a stronghold for far-right activists and groups.
As the war in Ukraine has given more visibility to far-right “solidarity” projects, Antifascist collective in Angers has investigated the humanitarian enterprise of far-right groups in France, and especially of the NGO “Urgence Humanitaire”. The organisation was founded late January and is presumably gathering activists connected to Alvarium, a neofascist organisation in Angers dissolved by the government last year. The war in Ukraine gave an opportunity for Urgence Humanitaire to rise and organise a mission between Poland and Ukraine, with an associated website “refugies-ukraine.fr”, where it states their mission to help “Christian refugees” who belong to “the same European family”. Other groups continue to organise donations of goods and medicines to Poland or Ukraine, sometimes joining forces with each other (Lyon Populaire and Les Braves Lyon; Helix-Dijon, Bordeaux Nationalistes and Luminis-Paris).

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Analysis

Manifestation of Front Populaire in Paris on the 15th of June 2024 - Photo by Jeanne Menjoulet (Published under CC2.0)

Antifascist Front Suppress the French Far-Right

The New Popular Front (NPF) coalition has won the second round of French parliamentary elections. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN) came third but increased its presence in the National Assembly.

The last straw – AfD’s departure from the Identity & Democracy Group

The sacking of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) from the Identity & Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament traces back to clashes between AfD and Rassemblement National (RN), resulting from non-matching strategies and conduct rather than ideological mismatches.

I’ll put a bullet in your head!

On June 27th, 2023, a 17-year-old boy, Nahel, was shot dead by a police officer during a traffic stop in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris. A witness filmed the scene; the policeman yells, “I’ll put a bullet in your

Presidential Elections in France

The timing couldn’t be more fortuitous: as the war in Ukraine unsettles political certainties across Europe and Emmanuel Macron seeks to assert himself in the diplomatic arena, voters will head to the polls for the first round of France’s presidential