News / Europe

France's Far Right Leader Vows Electoral Shake-up

Marine Le Pen (C), France's far-right National Front political party leader, and National Front party deputy Gilbert Collard (L) attend the presentation of New Year wishes to the media in Nanterre, Jan. 7, 2014.
Marine Le Pen (C), France's far-right National Front political party leader, and National Front party deputy Gilbert Collard (L) attend the presentation of New Year wishes to the media in Nanterre, Jan. 7, 2014.
Lisa Bryant
Buoyed by record popularity ratings and a disgruntled public, the leader of France's far-right National Front is vowing to shake up politics as usual during upcoming local and European elections. Party leader Marine Le Pen predicts surging support for anti-EU and anti-immigrant parties like hers across the region. 

French media suggest 2014 may be the year of Le Pen, and she seems to believe it, too. Speaking Thursday to anglophone journalists at her party's headquarters outside Paris, Le Pen predicted the demise of the country's two-party tradition.

Le Pen said the current French political system has come to an end - with what she called a collapse of the rule of law and basic values, and zero public confidence in politicians. This change, she said, would be registered at the polls.

Today, the National Front has only two deputies in the National Assembly, no senators and only a few dozen municipal lawmakers. But Le Pen believes that will change.

She has two upcoming dates to test her predictions. France holds municipal elections in March - and Le Pen's party plans to field candidates in a record 500 towns. Elections for the European Parliament take place across the 28-member bloc in May.

Polls show the National Front capturing a record 20 percent approval rating. The party is capitalizing on the struggling economy, fears of radical Islam and immigration, along with anger over the policies of Socialist President Francois Hollande. Another survey finds the Front capturing one-quarter of intended European Parliament votes - well ahead of the Socialists and the opposition right-of-center UMP party.

Le Pen said she believed euroskeptics would win considerably more seats in the European Parliament than they currently hold and form alliances aimed at dismantling the EU.

A member of the European Parliament, Le Pen said her main wish was for the EU to collapse. She predicted that those she called "patriots" in the European Parliament wold block any move to make the EU stronger.

Europe's economic crisis has triggered growing support for far-right populist parties in countries like Britain, the Netherlands and Greece. But Thursday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso downplayed the strength of euroskeptics and their chances at the polls.

Le Pen has tried to refurbish the radical image of the National Front since taking over its top post from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, three years ago. She placed third in the 2012 presidential elections.

On Thursday, she referred to the rise of fundamentalist Islam in France. She accused a small minority of radicals of pressuring the majority of mainstream French Muslims to adopt more conservative attitudes and identify with their religion rather than their country.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs