Far-right French ‘finishing school’ to educate tomorrow’s leaders

An overtly right-wing student, Smith found it difficult to find his place at the university he attended – the University of Nanterre outside Paris – which he identified as “very, very leftist”. Was. Union Nationale Interuniversitaire (UNI), the right-wing National Student Union. It was when he was just beginning his studies that one of his mentors at UNI suggested that he should consider training at the IFP.

Offering practical and theoretical classes in journalism, politics and business, the IFP has become something of a “finishing school” for right-wing youth in France. The school, which nurtured networks and communities for new politically-minded classes, has trained alumni to serve in parliament, organize campaigns, and speak on CNEWS – France’s equivalent of Fox News. He even acts as a far-right influencer on social media.

“The purpose of the IFP is very clear,” says Smith. “It’s about shaping right-wing youth and creating a new generation ready to meet the challenges of the country.”

We have already succeeded in that regard. According to the school’s principal, the IFP has trained more than 2,200 students since its opening in 2004, about 40% of whom now hold political responsibilities.

Of about 50 members of the entourage of far-right critic and former presidential candidate Eric Zemur, Identified According to French daily Le Monde, at least one-fifth are associated with the IFP as former students, lecturers, speakers, financial backers and admirers.

In an interview with CNN, the Institute’s director and co-founder Alexandre Pezy said, “We’re trying to maximize their chances of being placed in positions of responsibility.

Providing an “ideological backbone”

In 2004 Pesey, who had just finished his studies, decided to start a school with two colleagues. The trio felt they lacked “a place for young people who are attached to their country, history, culture and identity.”

The principal doesn’t like to politically limit the education the school offers, but admitted that “on a left-to-right scale, it’s clearly quite right-winged.”

Some of its seminars are entitled ‘Lawyers Face Islamist Threat’. “Defending our freedom of speech is the challenge of our time”; “The Value of Rights”; “Gender, Veganism and Nazivism: Decoding the Semantics of the Left”

Students can follow the seminar’s core curriculum or take specific training in journalism, politics, or entrepreneurship. Classes are held directly in the evening or on weekends to suit the student’s college or work schedule. They pay a fee to attend her IFP, but can get a scholarship from the school’s donors.

IFPs do not offer state-recognized qualifications or diplomas, so most students attend alongside their formal university studies. “I see it as something special to complete my education,” Smith said. “It gave me a right-wing ideological backbone.”

networking opportunities

“Beyond the intellectual and practical aspects of their formation, there is a networking aspect,” said Pesey. The links a student forms are both horizontal (among classmates) and vertical, with guests his speakers, mentors and like-minded professionals.

Samuel Lafont, 34, said, “There are things that were born because we met at IFP. They give us concrete ideas.” Lafont was one of his early IFP students and in 2009 he attended his first IFP seminar. Today, he is known for his role as digital his strategist on his Zemmour campaign.

He was also one of the brains behind the ‘Manif pour tous’ (demo for all) movement that organized the protests. same-sex marriage in 2012 and 2013. He described it as a key moment when many far-right and conservative youth groups began to come together and connect both personally and through their online activities.
Supporter of the movement against same-sex marriage

High-handed contacts provided by the IFP may include media entrepreneurs, magistrates, members of parliament, or directors of prestigious research programs.

It’s a powerful opportunity. “I know there are a lot of people I know who I can call through the IFP if I need to change jobs[…],” says Smith.

teach against the flow

Schools such as the Sciences Po, known as the Sciences Po, and the National School of Public Administration (now the National School of Civil Service) (selective ‘grandes écoles’ in France) were historical institutions and were considered express tickets to the top. I’m here. – Domestic flight carriers.

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But for many on the right, they represent the mainstreaming of left-wing teachings.

“IFP has a lot more freedom,” Lafont told CNN. “Sciences Po just gives you a one-way way of thinking. ‘ he added.

Zemur Placed 4th in the first poll in the presidential election, called The IFP is “Counter Science Po”, emphasizing the reactionary nature of the kind of teaching it offers.

“The idea arose on the right that one of the reasons for their political defeat was the absence of an intellectually formed cadre elite,” says researcher and far-right expert Jean-Yves Camus. Stated. Even if you entered college as a right wing, you are shaped by left-leaning dominant teachings.”

Pictured in 2021, IFP alumnus Alice Cordier is the president and founder of the far-right feminist group Collectif Némésis.

“Today the right faces a kind of censorship,” said Alice Cordier, 24, an IFP graduate and now instructor. “I see awakened ideologies and other extreme ideologies aimed at censoring those who think like me.” She is now a far-right feminist and I advised her while laying the groundwork for the anti-immigrant group Collectif Némésis.

On the other hand, the IFP “facilitates ties between politicians and young people, which is not necessarily developing for the right,” said Cordier. Additionally, the IFP encourages students to be more ambitious by showing that “everyone has a role to play, regardless of our status,” she said.

Right-wingers are now the majority in France, but “there is still the impression that they feel like a minority,” Camus said. He added that this may have influenced the creation of the IFP.

Right-wing politicians of tomorrow

While some analysts are reluctant to admit that the IFP has any influence on French politics, the alumni’s presence on the political scene speaks volumes. Chief among them is probably his Zemmour digital strategist Lafont, and around 20% of his Zemmour inner circle (identified by Le Monde) during the election season have links to his IFP. His IFP graduate, 23-year-old Stanislas Rigaud, founded Generation Z, the youth arm of Zemur’s campaign.

According to student Jack Smith, Zemmour’s closest team members even called the IFP directly to recruit IFP-trained youth to run for president. “I think the IFP was at the center of the game when the Zemmour campaign launched,” he said.

Marion Maréchal, niece and successor to far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and former member of the French National Assembly, has created her own school in Lyon, modeled after the IFP.

Lafon and Cordier agree that it is the power of the name that makes the school so important in France. They acknowledge that the “grand écoles”, despised by the right, are still a big force in the job market and the political arena. said the font.

But they say the IFP brand now holds equal weight in right-wing circles in France.

“It’s the best school that exists today to truly educate ourselves on subjects that matter to the right,” Cordier told CNN. I often send young women.

The school says the demand for places is outstripping the supply.

“All the right-wing politicians of tomorrow will go through the IFP,” said Cordier. “I’m pretty sure about that.”

Source: www.cnn.com

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