French politics and the emergence of homegrown jihadism : 2012-2016


The emergence of homegrown jihadism in France

  • 03/2012 : Mohammed Merah
  • 05/2014 : Mehdi Nemmouche
  • 01/2015 : Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermaker Hyper Cacher
  • 11/2015 : Bataclan shooting
  • 07/2016 : Nice attack
  • summer 2016 : Local attacks in Magnanville (couple of policemen), Saint Etienne du Rouvray (Catholic Priest)

  • Several aborded plots : Thalys, Gay clubs, Churches

How does the threat of terrorism impact political attitudes and behavior in France ?

  • A complex threat (lonewolf attack, different techniques, different targets from mass shooting to bombing to targeted assassination).
  • Attacks that were different in nature :
  • 2015 : dividing the french society by targeting specific groups.
  • Fall 2015 and 2016 : Mass shootings and attacks, no specific targets + targets that are disapproved by a significant number of djihadist groups across the globe.
  • Underlying issues : Immigration and xenophobia, violence in deprived neighborhoods, postcolonial issues, expression of faith (so called “islamophobia debate”).

Likelyhood of non linearity impact

There is no linear nor continuous impact of terrorism on French citizens attitudes and bevahior.

  • The general impact in changing through times as attacked are repeated while evolving in their nature
  • Homegrown djihadism likely to have a polarising impact on the french muslim population
  • It should also have a polarising effect of the french general population

Long term trends in attitudes towards muslims in France

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A rise in authoritarianism ?

  • Threat should increase authoritarianism (Altemeyer, 2006)
  • There should be some kind of “authoritarian dynamic” (Stenner, 2005)
  • Yet first survey ran after the january attacks show a decrease in prejudices (Mayer, Tiberj, May 2015)
  • Likely : different effects on different parts of the population
  • Consequence : increased polarization by strenghtening existing positions

No significant impact on "traditionnal" autoritarianism

  • Death Penalty (Cramer's V 0.03 from v1 to v13)
  • Immigration (Cramer's V 0.04 from v1 to v13)
  • French muslims are as french as anyone else (Cramer's V 0.04 from v1 to v13)

Yet important *levels* in autoritarianism

  • 30 % believe that French Muslims are not as french as anyone else
  • 37 % support death penalty
  • 60 % say there are too many migrants in the country

Who would you vote for if the presidential election were held today ?

Caption for the picture.

Combined results :

Caption 1

General trends : gaps relative to the national front :

Caption 1

Google trends of french internet users (90% market share)

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Why should we care ?

  • Those trends are likely to shape the next presidential election
  • They are splitting up existing political parties that heve to manage huge internal tensions
  • Strategical issues : how to reach to muslim voters ? can it be done ? is it worth it ?
  • Long term impact of terrorism on attitudes, hysteresis effect

Recent evolution (summer 2016) in perspective

  • Decline in support for the governement (not doing enough, “weak on terror”)
  • Seemingly uncorrelated to international issues (hawkish international policy by F. Hollande : Mali, Lybia, Syria)
  • Terrorism mainly perceived as a domestic issue
  • Consolidated vote for the far right
  • Issue evolution in the context of the economic crisis


  • Increase in support for National Front came before 2015 terror attacks
  • Support for main candidates increased after the Charlie Hebdo attacked
  • But has been declining since the November 2015 attack
  • Defiance against Hollande and Sarkozy does not translate into higher support for the National Front
  • Increased saliency for security and cultural issue, yet the economy remain the most important factor
  • Non linearity of terrorism effects : 2015-16 attacks were different in nature, had different impact
  • Cumulative impact of different trends lead to consolidation in the FN electorate