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France

French far-right shames Socialists in by-election

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-17

The far-right National Front has moved on to the second round of a parliamentary by-election to replace disgraced former MP Jérôme Cahuzac. The victory is an embarrassing blow to the Socialist government of President François Hollande.

France’s ruling Socialist Party suffered a humiliating defeat on Sunday by losing a parliamentary by-election to replace disgraced former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac.

Socialist Bernard Barral came in third place in the poll in the south-western Lot-et-Garonne department, behind the candidate representing the far-right National Front (FN), who moves to the second round against the nominee of the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party.

The UMP’s Jean-Louis Costes, a local mayor, won 28.7% of the vote, while the FN’s Etienne Bousquet-Cassagne (pictured left in main) claimed 26% support.

Barral took just 23.7% of ballots in an election with very low turn-out, ensuring the Socialists will lose one seat in the lower-house National Assembly, where they will nevertheless maintain an absolute majority.

French President François Hollande said that the results of the election were a repercussion of the tax-evasion scandal that forced Cahuzac to resign as the country’s budget minister and as an MP in April.

“When there are scandals, and in this case there was one, there is always the temptation to vote for the far right,” Hollande said in an interview with M6 television on Sunday evening.

After weeks of denying media reports that he once had a secret bank account in Switzerland, Cahuzac finally admitted on April 2 that he had stashed away thousands of euros from the tax man.

The run-off vote between the UMP and FN candidates for Cahuzac’s former seat in parliament will be held on June 23.

United against the FN

Jean-Francois Copé, presidet of the main opposition UMP party, said the election result was another “scathing repudiation of François Hollande and his policies.”

Nevertheless, the Socialist candidate Barral called his supporters to rally behind the UMP candidate Costel in a so-called Republican Front to oppose a political advance by the anti-immigration National Front.

Socialist Party chief Harlem Désir also urged voters to ensure the FN candidate did not win the upcoming second-round poll.

Meanwhile, the FN said it represented the only real political alternative in the contest, saying Costes’ UMP party “is just as rotten as Jérome Cahuzac’s.”

“It is a natural alliance between incompetents, who more than ever unite in their defeats and betrayals,” the FN said in a statement.

While the FN often boasts double-digit scores in French elections, the country's two-round voting system regularly excludes their candidates from office. The FN currently counts just two MP's in parliament. 

Date created : 2013-06-17

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