French politics may be rather complicated to the everyday person. A large number of parties in the French political world alone will confuse you, not to mention the country’s unusual electoral system. The first round of the 2022 presidential election featured 12 candidates from as many parties against one another.
This is a considerable contrast from the US presidential elections, where the two parties dominated. However, not every one of them is equal. So, rather than overloading with a lengthy list of names, this article will concentrate on France’s main political parties.
La République En Marche (LREM or LaREM):
La République en Marche (“Republic on the move” or “Republic going”) was established by Emmanuel Macron in 2016, before his first presidential campaign, and was initially known by the shorter term “En Marche!” (“Let’s go!”). With its pro-European, neo-liberal position, the new party, which calls itself center-left, has been successful in luring lawmakers who have historically supported the center-right. When Macron was elected president of France in 2017, he followed tradition and resigned as its leader.
Le Rassemblement National (RN):
Front national (“national front”), the most well-known extreme-right party in France, was founded in 1972. It was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who served as its leader until Marine Le Pen took over in 2011. After losing to Emmanuel Macron in the 2018 presidential election, she changed the organization’s name to “Rassemblement national.” She has worked to de-demonize the party by staying away from more controversial topics, maintaining her strong views on immigration and nationalism while gaining ground in the polls.
Les Républicains (LR):
The main conservative party in France is called Les Républicains. It was formed in 2015 by another party, lion pour un mouvement populaire (“Union for a popular movement”), continuing a long tradition of right-wing groups claiming the lineage of Charles de Gaulle. Other political groups that are on the rise, both from the extreme right and the center, have presented them with severe challenges in recent years. Its founder and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy continues to be its most well-known member.
Le Parti Socialiste (PS):
The Parti socialiste is the dominant party on the left and Les Républicains is the dominant party on the right. In truth, the two battled it out as France’s leading parties for many years, however, the political climate has grown more dangerous recently. Like de Gaulles for the right, François Mitterand continues to be the movement’s most prominent leader. With two terms of seven years each from 1981 to 1995, he also holds the distinction of being the Fifth Republic’s longest-serving French president.
La France Insoumise (LFI):
Since its founding in 2016, La France insoumise (“rebellious France”) has shaken up the French political scene with La République en Marche and the Rassemblement national. Due to its radical left-wing ideology, it has posed a threat to the traditional left, especially the Parti socialiste. The most well-known political person associated with it is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, its founder and leader.