Marine Le Pen scores stunning result in French presidential election
In the run up to Sunday’s first round presidential vote, it was hard to find many people in France publicly admitting they intended to vote forMarine Le Pen. Nevertheless between 18% and 20% appear to have done so – a stunning result for the far right.
It was a record for France’s Front National, beating the previous best in 2002 when Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, won his way into the second-round run-off with 17% of votes.
The surprise score reflected not only how Marine, a 43-year-old lawyer, made inroads into the French political landscape during a campaign in which she relentlessly challenged the “established” candidates, but also a deep disillusion with the main parties. She has now become the third force in the presidential campaign and a possible kingmaker in the second-round run-off in two weeks’s time.
French opinion polls have a record of underestimating support for the far right. Until now, the high point for the Front National, a presence in Gallic politics since the 1970s, was 2002. It was exactly 10 years ago, when Jean-Marie Le Pen, a one-eyed former stormtrooper, caused a political tsunami and found himself voted into the second round of the presidential election.
Everyone had said it could not happen. The opinion polls suggested it would not. It did. In what had been considered an unthinkable result, Le Pen senior knocked the socialist candidate and former prime minister Lionel Jospin out of the race to enter the second round.
He then lost, as voters left and right threw their support behind the centre- right candidate Jacques Chirac (some on the left voting with a clothes peg on their nose to mark their dislike of having to do so), but Le Pen’s success caused a national trauma and much soul-searching.
Marine, Jean-Marie’s youngest, whom he once recommended to the party as a “big healthy blonde girl … an ideal physical specimen” , sought to “de-demonise” the party. And in many ways she succeeded in defining the right-wing agenda, forcing Sarkozy to veer to the right in the hope of picking up her votes.
When it came to taking a tough line on immigration and Europe, Le Pen maintained that the French would not be fooled and would prefer the original, ie, her, to the copy, ie, Sarkozy. Her manifesto, with its emphasis on patriotism, protectionism, state regulation and the re-industrialisation of France, played well in the industrial heartlands of the north among the unemployed blue collar workers whose concerns she sought to echo.More from source
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