Sacré Bleu! Far Right Set to Surge in French Local Elections

Marseille (France), 16/03/2014.- Marine Le Pen (C), leader of the French far-right political party Front National, is applauded by supporters after delivering a speech during a political rally for the local elections, in Marseille, southern France, 16 March 2014. French municipal elections will be held on 23 and 30 March 2014. EFE/EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

Marseille (France), 16/03/2014.- Marine Le Pen (C), leader of the French far-right political party Front National, is applauded by supporters after delivering a speech during a political rally for the local elections, in Marseille, southern France, 16 March 2014.  EFE/EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

Paris (AFP) – France goes to the polls on Sunday in the first round of local elections set to represent a landmark for women in politics and, possibly, the far-right National Front.

“The vote is also set to be a groundbreaking one for women: whatever the final outcome of the two rounds of voting on consecutive Sundays, it is certain that Paris will end up with its first female mayor.”

9b5781c893d9a30a4e0f6a7067004532The first nationwide vote since Francois Hollande‘s 2012 election as president takes place with the ruling Socialists battling record unpopularity and the main opposition UMP party grappling with scandals embroiling former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

[See also: François Hollande Named Worst Politician in the World]

Against that backdrop, polls have suggested around one in four voters are considering casting their votes for Marine Le Pen‘s National Front (FN), setting the scene for what could be a breakthrough election for the anti-immigration, anti-EU party led by the daughter of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The vote is also set to be a groundbreaking one for women: whatever the final outcome of the two rounds of voting on consecutive Sundays, it is certain that Paris will end up with its first female mayor, while changes to the electoral rules are set to significantly increase the number of women in local governments across France’s rural heartlands.

There has been much agonising in the build-up to the vote that the turnout may fall below 60 percent as a result of the widespread disenchantment with mainstream parties — although that would still be considered a triumph for local elections in most industrialised countries.French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen arrives for a campaign meeting in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, March, 16, 2014. Municipal elections will take place on March 23 and 30 throughout France. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Just under a million people (nearly one in 60 of the population) will stand as candidates in an election that will produce over 36,000 new mayors for municipalities ranging from the tiniest of agricultural hamlets to metropolises like Lyon, Marseille and Paris.

Marine Le Pen believes her party could claim the mayorship of 10 to 15 mid-sized towns.That would represent a remarkable turnaround for a party that, at the time of the last municipals in 2008, was mired in financial crisis and internal bickering, and looked destined for the margins of French politics.

Marine Le Pen took over the leadership in 2011 and set about broadening the appeal of a party regarded as taboo by many voters in light of her father’s repeated convictions for holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred.

She secured just under 18 percent of the national vote in the first round of the presidential elections two years ago and polls indicate she is more popular now.

As well as trying to “detoxify” the FN’s image, Le Pen junior has attempted to make it less of a single issue party by campaigning on unemployment, living costs and crime.

Polls and pundits suggest that is prudent. Local elections tend to be decided on local issues and last week’s furore in Paris over phone-taps on Sarkozy, which he has likened to the conduct of the East German Stasi secret police, is not expected to influence voting patterns greatly.

There is concern that a drop in turnout on the side of Socialist party loyalists disillusioned with the government’s current performance, will boost the FN.

Under the two-round, run-off system for the elections, any party which secures 10 percent backing in the first round has the right to present candidates in the second round on March 31…Read more….

AFP/ Yahoo News


One Comment on “Sacré Bleu! Far Right Set to Surge in French Local Elections”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet Paris (AFP) – France goes to the polls on Sunday in the first round of local elections set to […]


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