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One in two voters back far-right in French by-election

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-07

In a shock to mainstream parties ahead of the March 2014 local elections, the far-right on Sunday gained a stunning lead of just under 50 percent in the first round of a by-election in the Var region of southern France.

The far-right achieved a massive 49.5 percent landslide in the first round of a by-election Sunday in the Brignoles constituency of the Var region of southern France.

National Front (FN) candidate Laurent Lopez took 40.4 percent of the vote, with another far-right party, the “Parti de France”, taking 9.1 percent. The centre-right UMP, France’s main opposition parliamentary party, came second with 20.8 percent.

With no single candidate taking more than half of the vote, the by-election will go to a second round.

The ruling Socialist Party (PS) was not represented in the by-election, lending its support instead to the Communist candidate Laurent Carratala (14.6 percent).

The PS called for “an assault on the FN” in the second round in favour of the UMP candidate on October 13.

“The left has been eliminated in the first round … and in the second round voters have only two choices, either the UMP or the FN,” the Socialist Party said in a statement.

“The FN can win when there is voter abstention on this scale, and it is the left that suffers” the PS statement continued, reminding that “even if it got a higher percentage, the FN actually took fewer votes than in the last presidential and legislative elections.”

The vote, which saw a low turnout of just 33 percent, sounds a warning bell for the mainstream Socialist and centre-right UMP ahead of local elections due to take place nationally at the end of March 2014.

Nationwide, Socialist candidates have been undermined by the unpopularity of the government, while the UMP has suffered from infighting at a senior level since the 2012 defeat of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Following Sunday’s result, the FN issued a celebratory statement: “The FN has proved that it can rally its countrymen around its candidate, and that the mainstream parties have been completely shunned and defied by voters.”

Date created : 2013-10-07

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