2 France The fact that these two issues gain the most backing among the list of options to reduce support for the Front National reflects a certain propensity among French people to subscribe to the idea that the economy and migration are not dealt with as they should be by other political formations. It is therefore mainly the Front National that exploits these issues as the foundation of their political and electoral success, especially since suggestions such as ‘a more responsible press’ (23 per cent) or ‘more stimulating policies’ (28 per cent) are not considered as useful for hindering the rise of the extreme right. Significantly, the European question does not seem to play an essential role in the eyes of the French people, either in a pro-European way, or in the opposite sense. Thus having ‘greater European integration’ is considered to be a good way to combat the rise of the party by only 8 per cent of respondents, while almost the same percentage (9 per cent) think that ‘weaker European integration’ could significantly change the situation.
159 3 French citizens are increasingly Eurosceptic but not Europhobic The European dimension of the YouGov survey allows us not only to appreciate the singularity of the French position compared with their British, German, Polish, Spanish and Swedish neighbours, but also to put the deterioration in their feelings for Europe into perspective. In a context of growing uncertainty and fears, the EU evokes contrasting emotions among French people, which are more akin to a growing Euroscepticism than a Europhobic desire to break ties with the EU. The EU evokes contrasting emotions The gap in France today between those in favour of ‘more Europe’ and those in favour of ‘less Europe’ is considerably wide (figure 17). More than 1 in 2 French people adopt negative positions about the European project, either by expressing a desire to reduce the EU’s powers (33 per cent) – the most widely chosen option – or, to a lesser degree, by supporting France’s exit from the EU (22 per cent). These Eurosceptic (wanting to bring powers back to national level) and Europhobic (wanting to leave the EU) positions contrast with pro-European or federalist positions, which fewer respondents support. Thus, just 11 per cent of French people think that the long-term policy should be to stay in the EU while trying to expand its powers, and only 14 per cent go even further and think that the priority should be to work on creating a single European government. In any case, neither group is satisfied by the status quo, since just 6 per cent of those surveyed want to leave things as they are.