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France

Front National notches up another win in southern French by-election

media Victorious Front National party candidate Laurent Lopez (L) Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

The eurosceptic, anti-immigrant Front National on Sunday comfortably won a local by election in the south, clocking up the latest in a series of high scores in local elections.

In Brignoles in the Provence hinterland, the Front National’s Lauret Lopez won 53.9 per cent of the vote beating rival Catherine Delzers of the Nicolas Sarkozy’s right wing UMP who garnered 46.1 per cent.

The Socialist-backed candidate, a Communist, was eliminated in the first round of voting, last Sunday.

Turnout yesterday was 47.47 per cent, up 14 per cent compared to last Sunday.

The Socialist party had called upon its supporters to try to block a Front National win by voting for the UMP candidate, Catherine Delzers.

When victory was announced last night, delighted FN supporters waving French flags chanted “Not right, not left, the National Front” and “We are in our own country”.

There is growing panic among what have traditionally been the two largest parties in French politics, the ruling Socialists and the mainstream right UMP, as the Front National notches up successes.

A recent poll put the FN top of voting intentions in European Parliament elections next May.

Opinion polls show socialist President François Hollande is deeply unpopular and the left has lost 8 by elections for parliamentary seats and 3 local by elections in the last 12 months. Meanwhile the UMP's image has been badly battered by bitter public power struggles since the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy last year.

Commentators attribute the FN’s success to record unemployment in a struggling economy, growing anti EU sentiment and concern about crime and issues linked to immigration.

However the Front National scored highest in the richer villages around Brignoles (between 48 and 56 per cent of the vote) a possible indication that unemployment and economic problems are not the prime motivations for voting FN.

 

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