Nick Griffin MEP has sent a message of congratulations to Front National (FN) leader Marine Le Pen after her party’s excellent results in the first round of French local cantonal elections.
In Sunday’s elections, the FN polled 15 per cent, just behind the neo-Tory UMP on 17 per cent. The Opposition Socialists lead on 25 per cent. The FN polled as high as 30 per cent in some cantons. News of the Front National’s ascendancy has knocked stories about Libya off the front pages of many leading French newspapers.
Under the French system, after the first round of voting, the top two candidates face each other in a second-round run-off, which is due to take place on Sunday 27 March. The FN reached the second round in just under 400 cantons, and more than 30 Front National candidates topped their polls.
This is an excellent result for the party’s new leader, who was elected in January to succeed her father.
Mme Le Pen said these results showed the FN was "no longer solely a protest vote". Her deputy Louis Aliot said this vote was part of a trend of rising FN support, and if it continued, the FN would replace the UMP as the main non-Socialist party.
Earlier this month, two opinion polls predicted that in next year's presidential election, current president Nicolas Sarkozy could be knocked into third place by Marine Le Pen.
Front National and British National Party MEPs sit together in the European Parliament as part of the informal Alliance of European Nationalist Movements, which has members from nine European parties.