Hollande hit by National Front gains in France

Elizabeth Fournier
FRENCH President Francois Hollande suffered a humiliating blow in yesterday’s local elections, as his ruling Socialist party lost out to both its mainstream right-wing rival and to the National Front (FN).

Results last night showed Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration FN had added 10 town halls to its victory last week in Henin-Beaumont, while over 100 large towns were expected to swing into the hands of the conservative UMP, the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The results mean Hollande and his allies are likely to have won just 42 per cent of the vote, and has led to speculation that the President could announce a reshuffle of his cabinet as soon as today. But voters in Paris offered Hollande a consolation prize, electing Anne Hidalgo to keep control of city hall for the Socialists and become the French capital’s first woman mayor. Hidalgo, a 54-year-old politician born in Spain, won 54.5 per cent of Parisians’ second round votes yesterday, beating UMP rival Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.

Le Pen claimed France’s two-party system had been smashed open: “Clearly we are entering a new phase, the duopoly of French politics has been broken and we must reckon with a third force.”