Date of Award:

8-2019

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Political Science

Advisor/Chair:

Steffen Blings

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Jeannie Johnson

Third Advisor:

Christa Jones

Abstract

Populist movements have been on the rise across Europe and the Americas. In France, the far right-wing party, Le Front National, has experienced recent growth in electoral success. Scholars of the Front National have in part attributed the party’s success to its increased use of populist rhetoric. This thesis examines the populist rhetoric used between the Front National’s past president Jean-Marie Le Pen and current president Marine Le Pen in order to test these scholarly claims. Based on their campaign speeches for the 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017 French presidential elections, I conducted a quantitative dictionary-based analysis on the difference in use of populist, xenophobic, and economic rhetoric between Jean-Marie Le Pen and Marine Le Pen. My results show that there has been only a relatively small increase in the use of populist rhetoric between the two leaders. Consequently, I argue that the perceived increased use of populist rhetoric in the Front National has more to do with the saliency of populism than numerical fact.

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