FRANCE’S National Front (FN) won by a wide margin in a local by-election in southeast France yesterday, the latest sign the anti-immigrant party is benefiting from discontent with ruling Socialists and mainstream opposition conservatives.
Even though the National Front already has an established presence in the region, the victory in the canton of Brignoles near the port town of Toulon suggests it is well placed to make gains in 2014 municipal and European Parliament elections.
FN candidate Laurent Lopez won 53.9 per cent of votes against 46.1 per cent for center-right UMP candidate Catherine Delzers, according to final results.
President Francois Hollande’s Socialists did not field their own candidate in the first round, instead backing a Communist ally who failed to make it into the run-off. They subsequently called on left-wing voters to back the UMP but even that was not enough to avert an FN victory.
“This victory with an unambiguous score and a record turnout demonstrated that the National Front is a unifying party,” Lopez said after the results were announced.