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This article challenges the widespread belief that the recent success of Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Front National is due to a ‘protest vote’ on the part of the French electorate, a vote which thus lacks any ‘core identity’ and is therefore unsustainable in the long term. Through a geographical and sociological breakdown of the 2002 presidential and legislative elections the article first shows the extent to which support for Le Pen is clearly not a ‘protest’ but has a clear and recognisable base. Following this, the article aims to situate the notion of the ‘protest vote’ in the wider context of the continued ‘moving right show’ in contemporary social democracy.