France’s far-right National Front party (FN) hailed an “exceptional” showing in the first round of the country’s local elections Sunday, after winning historic levels of support in a number of towns and cities.
Early estimates showed FN candidates leading in the eastern town of Forbach and the southern towns of Fréjus, Avignon, Perpignan, Villeneuve-sur-Lot and Beziers, putting the party in pole position for the second round of voting on March 30th.
The news was even better for the FN in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont, where the party’s candidate Steeve Briois took a majority of the vote at 50.26 percent, making him the outright winner and mayor.
Under municipal election rules in France, any candidate who gets more than 50 percent is declared the winner and there is no need for a second round.
Nationwide, the FN scored seven percent of the vote, according to pollster BVA – a high national tally, given that it only fielded candidates in some 600 of France’s total 36,000 municipalities.
FN leader Marine Le Pen said it had an been “exceptional” election for the party.
“The National Front has arrived as a major independent force – a political force both at the national and local level,” Le Pen told TF1 television.