French Populist Parties with and against COVID. Opportunities and Strategies in Times of Crisis - Université de Lorraine Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2021

French Populist Parties with and against COVID. Opportunities and Strategies in Times of Crisis

Nicolas Hubé
Martin Baloge


Like all countries of the European Union, France has been hard hit by the COVID-19 epidemic. However, this health crisis has not only had social, medical and sanitary consequences. It also had political effects as all parties took a stand against the measures decided by Emmanuel Macron. In this difficult context, two parties described as populist played an important role: the National Rally of Marine Le Pen, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon's France Insoumise. Our paper focuses on populist discourses during the pandemic period in order to better understand how these parties try to influence the French political and media agendas, but also how they seek to assert themselves within the French political game. Since the beginning of COVID's crisis period also corresponds to an electoral period (municipal elections), we can study how populist parties benefit or not from these strategies and this particular context. With regard to official activities on their websites and social media profiles, the analysis aims to identify the main features of populist action by focusing on the leaders’ statements and their political initiatives over a period of four months, from January to June. This period covers three different phases: (a) pre-Covid phase; (b) the phase of virus spread and containment measures; and (c) the mitigation of contagion phase, when the virus spread was under control in the country and restrictive measures were eased or removed. By focusing on an analysis in terms of "naming, blaming, claiming", we show that these parties develop different strategies. Marine Le Pen made extensive use of the strategy of blaming political actors, while Jean-Luc Mélenchon opted more for the strategy of naming these issues as broader political ones. Our proposal is thus a continuation of three questions raised by the panel, focusing both on the responses of populist parties to the COVID crisis and on how these parties also seek to take advantage of the crisis to rally new support against the French government. As our analysis focuses on the analysis of the two leaders' facebook posts, we also intend to propose an analysis of both parties' communication strategies in order to better understand the differentiated uses of social networks.
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Dates and versions

hal-03866609 , version 1 (22-11-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03866609 , version 1


Nicolas Hubé, Martin Baloge. French Populist Parties with and against COVID. Opportunities and Strategies in Times of Crisis. ECPR General Conference, The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), Aug 2021, Prague, Czech Republic. ⟨hal-03866609⟩
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