PARIS (Reuters) – Marine Le Pen’s run on Sunday for France’s presidency is the culmination of a five-decade rise of the far-right from a fringe movement to one of the country’s strongest political forces.
The following is a chronology of the movement’s rise.
1972 – The far-right Front National (FN) party is founded with former paratrooper Jean-Marie Le Pen as its president, but meets with little electoral success in its early years.
1986 – The National Front wins 35 out of 577 seats in parliamentary elections.
1987 – Le Pen sparks an uproar by calling Nazi gas chambers a “detail of history”. Though the remark earns him a conviction for condoning crimes against humanity, he goes on to repeat it several times in later years.
2002 – Running for president amid a crime wave, Le Pen’s law-and-order focused campaign resonates with voters, qualifying him for a runoff vote by beating Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in one the greatest political upsets of modern France.
Incumbent Jacques Chirac goes on to win a second term with 82% of the runoff vote as electors from both the left and right rally massively behind the conservative to smash any chance of Le Pen winning the presidency.
2002 – Le Pen’s daughter Marine starts to take a bigger role in the Front National.
In the following years, the party begins courting some voters traditionally on the left and takes some distance from her father’s harder lines.
2011 – Marine Le Pen is elected as the party’s president.
2012 – Le Pen makes her first run for the presidency, coming in third in the first round of voting with 18% of the vote. Her niece, Marion Marechal, becomes an FN lawmaker.
2014 – After a purge of party members opposed to Marine Le Pen’s softer line, the FN wins nearly a quarter of the vote in European Parliament elections, for the first time coming out ahead of the Socialist Party.
2015 – The party’s leadership expels Jean-Marie Le Pen after he calls into question his daughter’s efforts to “de-demonise” the party and after he repeats his remarks about gas chambers.
The FN wins nearly 28% of the fist round vote of regional elections, ahead of the conservative Republicans and the Socialists. However, it does not win control of any region in the following runoff vote.
2017 – In her second run for the presidency, Marine Le Pen qualifies for a runoff against Emmanuel Macron with 7.7 million votes in the first round. She goes on to lose to Macron with only a third of the runoff vote.
2022 – Marion Marechal, who had quit politics after repeated clashes with her aunt, comes back to support rival far-right candidate Eric Zemmour.
2022 – In her third presidential run, Le Pen qualifies again for a runoff against Macron with 23% of the first round vote. Polls indicate she will once again lose to Macron, albeit by a much smaller margin than in 2017.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Toby Chopra)