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Assassination Attempt On French President Jacques Chirac Reveals the Rise of the Extreme Right in France

July 16, 2002

A student with ties to Neo-Nazi groups tried to assassinate French President Jacques Chirac in Paris Sunday during Bastille Day celebrations. He fired a single shot at the President’s motorcade with a hunting rifle, but missed.

The accounting student, Maxime Brunerie, was not only connected with extreme rightist groups, he was also a candidate for one of France’s two legitimate far-right parties. Mouvement Républicain National, or the Republican National Movement party, confirmed that Brunerie was a candidate for the party in the local elections in Paris last year.

Described by the police as "confused, unstable and incoherent", Brunerie entered a psychiatric home yesterday. It is unclear whether he will be charged with attempted murder.

But the assassination attempt reveals disturbing alliances between the moderate right and extreme rightist factions in France. The Republican National Movement was established by Bruno Mégret, the former right-hand man of the veteran National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. After shocking the country with his win in the first round of France’s presidential election, Le Pen lost to Chirac in national elections.

But Le Pen’s popularity has tapped into fears that a new fascism is taking hold in Europe. We are joined by Free Speech Radio News reporter Rafael Krafft in Paris. Rafael has been touring rural France for the last two months documenting the rise of the right.


  • Rafael Krafft, reporter for Free Speech Radio News in Paris, France. He has been cycling around rural France for the last two months, investigating the rise of the right.