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Tuesday, March 25, 2014 12:49 PM


Rise of the Eurosceptics: Socialists Hammered in French Elections; Le Pen Surprises, Calls for "Alliance of Eurosceptics"


Round one in French elections is over, and the socialists were hammered.

The victor was Marine Le Pen's Front National party. The Socialists only received 43% of the votes, with the center-right pulling in 46-48%. Front National only got 5-7% (reports vary), but that was far better than expected. Front National fielded candidates in fewer than 600 of France's 36,000 municipalities.

The goal of the socialists was to prevent Front National from winning a mayoral race in any town. They failed.

Recall that French elections are in two rounds. If someone gets 50% in the first round, they win. Otherwise there is a runoff between the top two candidates. [See addendum for clarification]

Le Pen Surprises in French Elections

The Guardian reports Le Pen Grows Stronger Amid Disillusion as FN Surprises in French Elections

Was this the moment the Front National became more than just a protest party?

While France's local elections on Sunday were notable for record voter abstention and a bloody nose for the governing Socialists, it was the far-right party's showing in a crucial European election year that really stood out.

The anti-Europe FN, led by Marine le Pen, fielded candidates in fewer than 600 of France's 36,000 municipalities – and still secured about 5% of the total votes cast at the weekend. As a result, expectations are mounting that it will do extremely well in May's European elections.

The FN secured one mayor elected outright in the northern town of Hénin-Beaumont, a former coalmining area traditionally in Socialist hands, and enough votes to take part in the second-round runoff in nearly 230 municipalities. The FN goes into next Sunday's vote ahead in a number of major and symbolic towns and cities including Avignon, Perpignan and Béziers.

France's biggest selling newspaper, Ouest-France, said the FN was now the "third political force" in the country.
Swing to the Right

EuroNews reports France’s Front National Far Right Punches High in Local Polls
In France’s latest municipal elections, almost four out of ten voters abstained. The centre-right UMP did best in Sunday’s round one, scooping more than 46 percent of the country’s votes, the governing Socialist party almost 38 percent. Notably, however, the far right Front National (FN) packed quite a punch.

Ifop polling expert Frédéric Badi said: “The left lost badly except in a few strongholds. The Front National only ran in 600 cities; this means only one French voter in three had the chance to vote FN. The five percent score it got across the country is an illusion compared to its real potential.”

In the ex-industrial north, the small city of Hénin Beaumont has been in Socialist hands since 1945, and FN leader Marine Le Pen has been vote-hunting here for several years; finally, the FN candidate gets to be mayor. That’s just the thin end of the wedge in her strategy.

Le Pen said: “The Front National success signifies a national force and also, from now on, a great local force. It’s a vote calling for us to grow roots in all the territories of the Republic, to prepare for tomorrow’s alternative.”

France’s big centre-left and centre-right parties realise tomorrow’s alternative could hurt them worse: the daughter of FN founder former paratrooper Jean-Marie aims to gain ground gradually in preparation for the legislative elections to be held in 2017. The prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, appealed to stop the FN in its tracks.

Ayrault said: “Where the Front National is ready to prevail in the second round, the left and the right are responsible for creating the conditions to prevent it.”
Le Pen Calls for "Alliance of Eurosceptics"

Via translation from Corriere.It, please consider Le Pen Calls for "Alliance of Eurosceptics"
Regarding European elections in May, which according to some surveys, the National Front is credited in  first or second place, Le Pen has called on all euro-skeptics in Europe, including the Five Star Movement and the Northern League, to do so to "be as many in the pews of the European Parliament."

All anti-euro parties "must unite for the defense of nations, the return of democracy, the sovereignty of peoples and national identities," added Le Pen, who on Sunday earned a historic achievement in the first round of the municipal elections of France.

Beppe Grillo responded in a blog "Marine Le Pen is a beautiful lady of great success. No one hates her. However, M5S has a different political agenda so deals are not possible.
Le Pen a Bigger Threat than Grillo

Commenting on the above story, Eurointelligence offered this opinion "Those who dismissed Grillo as a comedian have clearly underestimated him. The bit of his past he has not shaken off is that he is still performing a one-man show, unwilling to form coalitions of any kind, in Italy and at EU level. This is why Le Pen is a far more potent threat than Grillo."

Addendum:

Reader Olivier Lefever informs me that 50% outright always wins. However, only in presidential elections do the top two candidates square off if the 50% target is not hit. In municipal election, you can have "triangulaire" or even "quadrangulaire" runoffs. The threshold is 10% for mayoral elections and 12.5% for parliament.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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