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Marine Le Pen and the Front National take France by storm

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The Front National made considerable headway in local elections in France on Sunday. The far-right party obtained around 5% of the vote nationwide and has good chances of its candidates becoming mayor in several cities in the run-up vote. Some see the results as a slap in the face for the government. Others warn that FN leader Marine Le Pen's success in the provinces should not be overrated.

The Front Na­tional made con­sid­er­able head­way in local elec­tions in France on Sun­day. The far-right party ob­tained around five per­cent of the vote na­tion­wide and has good chances of its can­di­dates be­com­ing mayor in sev­eral cities in the run-up vote. Some com­men­ta­tors see the re­sults as a slap in the face for the gov­ern­ment. Oth­ers warn that FN leader Ma­rine Le Pen's suc­cess in the provinces should not be over­rated.

Le Fi­garo, France: A slap in the face for Paris

In the run-up to the local elec­tions, some mem­bers of the So­cial­ist gov­ern­ment ex­pressed hopes that above all vot­ers on the right would stay away from the polls. But they had an­other thing com­ing, the con­ser­v­a­tive daily Le Fi­garo writes, see­ing the elec­tion re­sults as a rap on the knuck­les for Pres­i­dent Hol­lande: "We were told that a mi­cro-cli­mate pre­vailed in 36,000 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that would pro­tect the So­cial­ists from the winds of de­cep­tion and anger that are sweep­ing the coun­try. We were told that the vot­ers on the right, dis­cour­aged by af­fairs and lead­er­ship bat­tles, would pre­fer to stay at home. ... Think again! Once again, the prophets with rose-coloured glasses were gravely mis­taken. Yes­ter­day once again con­firmed the rule ac­cord­ing to which elec­tions dur­ing a pres­i­dent's term of of­fice give vot­ers the chance to ex­press their dis­con­tent. ... This is harsh pun­ish­ment, and a clear dis­avowal for the gov­ern­ing ma­jor­ity."

Ar­ti­cle pub­lished 24/03/2014

La Lib­erté, Switzer­land: No his­tor­i­cal re­sults for the Front Na­tional

The far right Front Na­tional is ex­pected to have won the may­oral race in sev­eral of France's smaller cities, like Per­pig­nan or Avi­gnon in the south. But it's the big cities that make the dif­fer­ence in French pol­i­tics, the re­gional paper La Lib­erté writes: "The 'navy blue wave' [in French: 'vague bleu ma­rine', the elec­tion slo­gan which plays on the name of FN leader Ma­rine Le Pen] has proved ef­fi­cient. This is the fruit of a long-term strat­egy. A con­quest that was pre­pared pa­tiently, by means of a solid local pres­ence. ... How­ever out­side the elec­tion pe­ri­ods, the French only have eyes for pretty girls like Paris, Mar­seille, Lyon, Lille or Bor­deaux. This is where na­tional pol­i­tics is played out, and here the big play­ers from the [so­cial­ist] PS and the [con­ser­v­a­tive] UMP still rule un­di­vided. Only when the FN man­ages to snatch one of these crown jew­els will a page of his­tory re­ally have been turned."

Ar­ti­cle pub­lished 24/03/2014

Cor­riere della Sera, Italy: Dan­ger­ous mix of pop­ulism and ab­sten­tion

The suc­cess of the Front Na­tional and the high level of ab­sten­tion don't bode at all well for the Eu­ro­pean elec­tions, the con­ser­v­a­tive daily Cor­riere della Sera fears: "As has been the case in other de­ci­sive mo­ments in re­cent his­tory, the storm that will hit all Eu­rope is brew­ing in France. ... It tes­ti­fies to a mood of pop­ulist em­bit­ter­ment, re­jec­tion of gov­ern­ment pol­icy and fear of Eu­rope which on top of every­thing else has been re­in­forced by a record level of ab­sten­tion. When al­most 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion doesn't par­tic­i­pate in the elec­tion of their mayor, it is an in­di­ca­tion that the dis­ease is se­vere and could in­fect other coun­tries, since its germs have al­ready spread to other Eu­ro­pean so­ci­eties. A few weeks be­fore the Eu­ro­pean elec­tions take place it will be dif­fi­cult to counter the emo­tional im­pact and media hype em­a­nat­ing from the French mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties."

Ar­ti­cle pub­lished 24/03/2014

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