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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

French scholars have been remarkably resistant to the idea that fascism ever had much purchase as a political force in France. Yet, this article argues that, whatever the authentic ‘fascist’ credentials of the various French movements that have begged classification by scholars of fascism, it was a configuration of contextual factors which kept them out of power rather than the intrinsic ideological weakness of fascism as a political force. The question is how far any of them were fascist and why their advocates failed to seize power. This article reconstructs some of the conversations in which historians and other scholars have been engaged, convey the variety of illiberal populist positions that sought to mobilize support in this period, and articulate the nature of the inter-war crisis in French democracy which made the radical right so appealing to many.

Keywords: fascism, radical right, political force, French democracy, populist positions

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