[T]he National Front represents a deeper challenge for a French right, which now occupies an awkward centrist position.... The possibility of alliance is taboo for Republican leaders, who fear that the mere mention of it would break down the last barrier for voters; even mentioning the possibility publicly has led to the expulsion of party members (including an MP). But if alliance is out, what are the other options? Confronting the FN head on? Co-opt its message to attract its voters (thus running the risk of letting the FN shape the conversation)? Much as U.S. Republicans with Donald Trump, French strategists are at loss.The National Front is somewhat like UKIP in Britain. Both are nationalist parties in the old sense. They're proud of who they are, and they want to protect their nation and advance its interests, but more than that: they both want to protect their nation's character. They are proud of being French, or they are proud of being English. They want a country that takes that character seriously, protecting or restoring it as necessary.
Their focus on protecting or restoring this national character is what opens them to charges of racism or of xenophobia, but what is going on is less xenophobia than oikophilia, that is, love of home and the things of one's own. Love of home is such a deep, natural part of human beings that of course it is difficult to strategize against. Europe hoped it would be able to transfer the love of home to itself considered broadly, as France had earlier managed to become the emotional center of love-of-home for Gascons as well as Parisians. Great Britain once managed to become the emotional center of home-love for Englishmen as well as many Welshmen or Scots.
What's going on instead is that Europe's demands upon France, or Britain's on England, have begun to work against the interests of home too much for the collective to be thought of as the real home of the heart. In that way, the Scottish National Party is like these parties too in spite of its very different agenda. Because its leftist agenda is more acceptable to the media, it isn't demonized the way that UKIP and the FN are, and because of that it swept the Scottish elections recently. People are willing to associate with it without fear of being called racists or xenophobes.
That fear doesn't last forever, though, and the more because the charge isn't fully fair. There are racists and xenophobes among these nationalists, but there are also among the centralizing parties. The charge is that UKIP or FN are driven by hate, though, whereas racism is accidental when you find it in the Labour party.
In truth, that charge is 180 degrees off of reality. They are driven by love. It is an intense love of home, and the things associated with home, that is driving all these movements. To say that love is hate is not just slander. It becomes an incapacity to see things clearly. Sun Tzu warns that you can never be sure of defeating an enemy you don't understand.