Marine Le Pen and the Front National take France by storm

Article published on March 25, 2014
Article published on March 25, 2014

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