2 France impetus that originates in the public perception of any or all of these factors. In other words, the ‘evocation of emergency’ that has been present in France for the last 12 years can be either a driver for positive and constructive change or, in the hands of populists, the best trigger for a simplified political discussion justifying a more conservative, protectionist and exclusionist agenda. Nevertheless, in the French scenario, the rise of ‘fear’ in the populist discourse is not necessarily framed as a single-issue debate (as could be seen in the UK in the last year). The current French populism is complex and sophisticated ‘as a number of previously disconnected grievances can find articulation under a new populist claim’. 9 This thesis is illustrated in particular by one of the main questions in the Demos and YouGov survey analysed in this chapter (see below). 10 When asked to choose the three things that would do most to reduce support for the Front National, French respondents focus on the economy, immigration, education and the political class. Regarding the economy, the most quoted remedy is as simple as ‘achieving more economic growth and job creation’ (40 per cent), followed by the option of getting a ‘reduction of immigration into France’ (36 per cent). The third most quoted solution is electing ‘more inspiring mainstream political leaders’ (28 per cent) and ‘more emphasis on French values and citizenship in schools’ (28 per cent), both quoted at similar rates. These data could be interpreted in different ways, but it is already useful to identify the challenges that play into hands of the Front National. In other words, it helps to measure what makes the Front National popular today and from that perspective we could say that the four key ‘weaknesses’ in the country currently consist of a mix of unemployment, decreasing multiculturalist values, a lack of citizenship education and distrusted political elites.
135 Figure 1 Responses by survey respondents when asked which of three options would in their opinion reduce support for the Front National 40 Percentage 20 0 ‘Improved economic growth and employment’ ‘A decrease in immigration in France’ ‘More stimulating political leaders’ ‘Stressing French values and citizenship in schools’ ‘A more responsible and less sensational press’ ‘Giving more opportunities to ordinary people’ ‘Weaker European integration’ ‘Greater European integration’ ‘Dont’ know’ * Total greater than 100%: more than one answer possible.