The Atlantic

How Populism Took Root in France

It’s not about the rise of the far right. It’s about the collapse of both left and right.

Source: Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

The idea that politicians operate on a spectrum, with the right on one end and the left on the other, originated with the French Revolution, when royalists sat on the right side of the National Assembly and revolutionaries on the left. So it’s only fitting that, 228 years later, France is at the forefront of a phenomenon on display in many democracies at the moment: the crumbling of left-right politics.

Of the four leading candidates in France’s presidential election, the first round of which takes place on Sunday, only one hails from a traditionally dominant left- or

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