Oh, LA LA! Marine LePen’s pro-France Front National party has a huge lead in first round of local elections

FN-Jeanne-dArc-e1381164974587

In a shock to mainstream parties ahead of the March 2014 local elections, the anti-Muslim immigration Front National party 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.

France24 (h/t Maria J) The conservative Front National party 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.

Front National can fairly be described as a nationalist party and aggressively anti-immigration party. The party has a diverse platform that includes “law and order,” anti-immigration, and “anti-government” positions (tax cuts for small businesses, elimination of some local and regional government, hostility to the political class in general).

Immigration Poster-FN

It also includes a certain economic protectionism and hostility to the European Union and the euro. However, the most distinctive plank remains an aggressive hostility to Muslim immigration and immigrants, despite a certain mainstreaming of rhetoric and the increasing use of anti-immigration rhetoric by the main center-right party, the UMP.

National Front features anti-immigration posters opposing the purported “Islamization” of France, often featuring minaretsburqas, and the Algerian flag. One poster warns darkly against people staying at home on election day as “the immigrants are voting”

affich17

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.

Last January a poll claimed that 87% of French said they wanted “a real leader in France to restore order.” The media were equally alarmed with a poll the same month which found that a majority of French thought there were too many immigrants, that Muslims had too many rights, that the police were not tough enough, and that “traditional values” were insufficiently defended. Most remarked upon was that 31% of people said they “completely or mostly agreed with the ideas” of France’s far-right party, the Front National.

214228605

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.”

Even the youth vote has come out in support of Front National party members as seen in these posters: The Front National youth wing tends to have particularly aggressive posters such as one declaring “You fuck France… Get the fuck out!” featuring a club-wielding thug with a dog.

imagesFN-Tu-niques-la-France

Front National activists argue they suffer from the “anti-white racism” of immigrants and non-white French citizens (notwithstanding the fact that white French hold the overwhelming majority of educational, economic, police and political power, that is, the ability to discriminate). So one youth poster says: “Enough with anti-French racism: THIS IS OUR HOME!” Another, featuring a stereotyped Muslim, urges, with no sense of contradiction: “Against racism… Stop immigration!” Another poster: “These colors don’t run.”

Affiche-FNJ-11-500x666halte-a_-l--immigration--fn-jeunesse

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.

This table gives a sense of the Front National supporters’ positions relative to other parties:

FN-table

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.”

1