Observing the French presidential election with foreboding, I thought of parallels with a favourite author of mine: Edmund Burke, the famous theorist of conservatism. Writing Reflections on the Revolution in France just after the start of the revolution, Burke cursed progressive Englishmen for their support for the revolutionaries. According to Burke, the French Revolution disrupted delicate institutional balances, encouraging disorder. Burke was vindicated, the revolution descending into terror and continental war. Admittedly, today’s situation is distinct. Even if Marine Le Pen wins the presidency, France and Europe will probably not descend into the chaos of the 1790s; most think that a Le Pen presidency would resemble the Trump presidency, this eroding liberal democracy, but not destroying extant institutions.
You wonder why the Conservative movement has co-opted radical-right ideas. I don't know about France, but in my own country, the UK, it is surely largely about Thatcherism having run out of road - there just aren't many more Thatcherite reforms to be made because Thatcher already did them all, and so populist ideas fill the policy vacuum.
Not convinced here.
Conservatives are about conserving traditional order and institutions, yes.
Le Pen is all about conserving France as a nation for French people -- she's all about preserving demographics and culture (as opposed to the US multi-culture example.)
What institutions does she want to erode or destroy?
Seems to be she's working for conservative ends, entirely within the democratic process and established institutions. Just because bureaucrats aren't happy with it doesn't make it non-conservative!
What worries me about a Le Pen presidency is that it will repeat Trump’s feat - the strange swerve of the left into identity politics. We currently see much less of that here and maintain a much more ‘authentic’ (to me) brand of socialism than the anglophone world. Her ‘France first’ policies also potentially threaten my personal well-being, so I have selfish reasons to hope her programme is rejected.