French Poll: Far-Right Extremist Could Win First Round of 2012 Presidential Election
An internet poll in France has found more support for a far-right, nationalist candidate in next year’s Presidential election than for either the incumbent or a likely Socialist contender. According to the BBC, Marine Le Pen of the xenophobic National Front party leads President Nicolas Sarkozy and potential Socialist candidate Martine Aubry by a margin of two percentage points. It’s not a huge lead, but the poll results have shocked the French public. The survey, conducted by the prestigious newspaper Le Parisien, found 23% of the 1,618 respondents would vote for Le Pen. If such a result were to become reality, Le Pen would automatically qualify for the second round run-off against one of the mainstream candidates.
Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, stunned France when he came in second in the first round of the 2002 Presidential election. He was crushed by incumbent Jacques Chirac in the second round. Le Pen is a racist hothead who founded the National Front in 1972. He was a five-time Presidential candidate whose rabidly xenophobic and racist views earned him a fiercely loyal but ultimately limited following. His daughter Marine, aged 42, comes off as a kinder, gentler Le Pen, but those who have followed her career in the European Parliament are quick to point out that while she has wisely abandoned her father’s anti-Semitism, she shares many of his xenophobic, anti-Islamic views.
Still, her folksy, conservative charm (sound familiar?) and France’s continuing economic woes have got many French voters– especially in the National Front’s traditional southern strongholds– giving Le Pen their serious consideration. The mainstream French political establishment is taking notice. But will they be able to fend off the challenge she represents?
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