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26 Nov, 2023 19:14

Most French people have positive views of Napoleon’s legacy – poll

A survey has revealed a nuanced opinion of the former emperor and military commander among the modern French population
Most French people have positive views of Napoleon’s legacy – poll

A significant percentage of modern France approves of the legacy left behind by the French emperor and military commander, Napoleon Bonaparte, according to the findings of a recent poll.

The Ridley Scott-directed movie ‘Napoleon’ release has generated lukewarm reviews since its Paris premiere earlier this month – particularly in France – with the country’s edition of the magazine GQ panning the film as being “deeply clumsy and unnatural.”

But while critics have expressed diverse opinions of Napoleon’s portrayal on the silver screen, the film has also revealed a more nuanced view of the actions of the former French leader and military commander more than two centuries after his death.

Some members of the modern French population have long criticized Napoleon’s record of misogyny, imperialism, and racism – he reintroduced slavery in France some eight years after it was abolished – but other elements of his rule have come into sharper focus. And according to a recent poll, many people in the EU country approve of his long-term legacy.

Some 74% of people view Napoleon’s actions as positively impacting France, a recent poll conducted by Ifop-Fiducial for Sud Radio said – an increase of 4% from a similar survey in 1969.

Of Napoleon’s specific impacts, 40% of respondents believe that creating the Civil Code – also called the Napoleonic Code – was his finest achievement. The Civil Code, first published in 1804, instituted a large overhaul of French laws to reflect the principles of the French Revolution better.

A further 20% praised Napoleon’s impact and reform on education standards in France, up from 5% in 1969. Modern France, though, appears to hold a less well-regarded view of Napoleon’s military achievements, with just 31% of those polled celebrating his triumphs on the battlefield as opposed to 50% who emphasized support for his war strategies in 1969.

Meanwhile, some 25% of those who responded to the poll said they viewed Marine Le Pen and Nicolas Sarkozy as the closest political figures to Napoleon in present-day France.

By contrast, a separate poll commissioned last month by YouGov said that one in three French adults (34%) have a generally positive view of Napoleon. One in five (21%) hold an unfavorable opinion of the former French emperor.