Saturday, September 19News For London

France should avoid “knee-jerk reaction” to far-right party win

French leftist parties must prove that they can provide a viable alternative to the National Front, according to an EU delegate.

This comes immediately after the party’s record breaking majority in the 1st round of the country’s regional elections.

Achieving almost 30% of the vote, and coming top in six out of 12 regions, Marine Le Pen’s socially conservative and eurosceptic party has steadily been rising in the polls for months. These results come just weeks after the November Paris terrorist attacks, during which 130 people died at the hand of ISIS perpetrators.

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Following the release of the results on Sunday evening Le Pen’s niece and member of the French Parliament, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, gave a triumphant speech on France 3 Provence-Alpes. She asserted that the FN were now “undoubtedly the first political party in France.”

She continued; “this is additional proof that our movement is one that is mobilising those who would usually abstain.”

Maréchal-Le Pen; Results have boosted the FN’s hopes of leadership (Source: Flickr / Rémi Noyon)

The results have shocked many people around Europe, though the reaction from Brussels points to a certain inevitability and resignation.

Ernest Bostock, an informed Brussels source, felt that avoiding “knee-jerk reactions” was key when dealing with far-right parties; “All of this is dictated by what happened in Paris a few weeks ago. The populist and demagogic parties are the ones who profit, and other parties need to show that they have a plan for the difficult path ahead.”

Founded in 1972 by Marine Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie in attempt to unify various French nationalist movements, the National Front has slowly been gaining momentum in recent years. In 2014 the party won 24 seats in the European Parliament elections, ranking them as the party with the most seats in France.

According to Bostock, the party has been reborn during Marine’s stint as leader; “she has been subtly and almost imperceptibly taking over from some leftist policies, such as condemning free trade.”

It has also emerged that the party is now the most popular among 18-24 year-olds in France, lending weight to Marion Maréchal-Le Pen’s claims that the FN is now the main party in France.

Main photos: Le Cain

Translations: Alexandra Vryzakis