It was May 1, 1988 in Paris, and I watched as Jean-Marie Le Pen, a young girl dressed as Joan d'Arc, a line of sash-wearing dignitaries, and 40,000 Front National supporters marched through the streets in a May Day parade. It was the moment that the Front National's racist nationalism broke into the middle of French politics, after years (decades) on the margins. Le Pen won 4.4 million votes, about 14.7% of the total, in the first round of the presidential elections that year. At the time, I was used to monitoring Klan rallies in the American South, which never approximated the size and power of the rally that day. The Front National's fortunes have waxed and waned over the next two-plus decades since. Now, with a stunning six million votes (17.9% of the total) in the in the first round of the French presidential elections, Marine Le Pen has re-established the Front National as a leading voice for racist, anti-immigrant politics in Continental Europe.
The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR) is a national organization with an international outlook examining racist, anti-Semitic, white nationalist, and far-right social movements, analyzing their intersection with civil society and social policy, educating the public, and assisting in the protection and extension of human rights through organization and informed mobilization.