French far-right on rise

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MICHEL GURFINKIEL

MARINE LE Pen’s Na­tional Front (FN) is set to emerge as France’s pre­em­i­nent po­lit­i­cal force at the re­gional elec­tions on De­cem­ber 6 and 13.

Ac­cord­ing to a poll for Metronews and LCI, the party may garner 30 per cent of the vote, ahead of Ni­co­las Sarkozy’s con­ser­va­tives, Les Répub­li­cains (LR), cur­rently at 28 per cent, and Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande’s Parti So­cial­iste (PS), which lags at 22 per cent. Other sur­veys tell sim­i­lar sto­ries.

Clearly, cur­rent con­cerns about ji­hadist terror at­tacks, the fate of Mid­dle East­ern Chris­tians and the refugee cri­sis are boost­ing FN as the “na­tional iden­tity” party. And Ms Le Pen’s ef­forts to dis­tance her­self from her fa­ther, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and to turn FN into a bona fide demo­cratic party, seem to be pay­ing off. When Mr Hol­lande de­creed a st a t e of emer­gency in the wake of the Novem­ber 13 mas­sacres, Ms Le Pen re­frained from crit­i­cism and granted him her full sup­port.

In ad­di­tion, the elec­toral law is some­thing of a boon to FN: re­gional elec­tions are based on pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion across two bal­lots, with a bonus for the win­ning list. If Ms Le Pen gets a strong show­ing on the first ballot, she may at­tract con­ser­va­tive or ab­sen­tee vot­ers on the sec­ond.

Re­gional power is now an im­por­tant fac­tor in France, es­pe­cially af­ter last year’s re­form that con­verted 20 re­gions into just 13. Con­trol of one or sev­eral re­gions would definitely en­hance Ms Le Pen’s stature in na­tional pol­i­tics.

French co­me­dian Di e u d o n n é M’B a l a M’Bala was jailed for two months this week for ques­tion­ing the ex i s t e nce o f t he Nazi gas cham­bers and call­ing Adolf Hitler a “sweet kid” du r i n g a st a n d - u p performa n c e . H e wa s fo u n d g u i l t y of i ncit i ng racial ha­tred.

PHOTO: AP

Marine Le Pen

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