FAR-RIGHT anti-immigration party Front National (FN)has made significant gains in regional elections in the first round of voting held on December 6.
Topping nationwide polls with 28 per cent of the vote and coming first in 6 out of 13 regions, FN enjoyed an historic day, having only captured 11 per cent in 2010s regional elections.
The elections were the first since November´s terrorist attacks in Paris which left 130 dead, and is credited with a rise in anti-immigration and anti-Islamist sentiment across the country.
December 13 will see a second round of voting that will determine the final result and see whether FN can consolidate a level of regional control that would be unprecedented in the history of the party.
Marine Le Pen, party leader and daughter of ex-leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, has sought to transform the party from its previous status as an extreme protest party. The strategy appears to be succeeding and, after the results, she announced that FN was now “the first party in France.”
The elections are seen as a key indicator of the political mood across the country and will be keenly watched by international observers as a prelude to Presidential elections in 2017.