News

French Far Right Key to Election Outcome

Leader of France's far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen (file photo)
Leader of France's far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen (file photo)
Lisa Bryant

France's far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen finished a strong third in the first round of presidential elections last month.  Now, her supporters may be key in determining the outcome of the runoff vote May 6 that pits French President Nicolas Sarkozy against front-runner Socialist rival Francois Hollande.  

The thousands of National Front supporters attending the party's traditional May Day rally in Paris were in a festive mood.  They cheered as the party's leader, Marine Le Pen, celebrated her third-place finish in the first round of French presidential elections and they booed as Le Pen mocked the two finalists in next Sunday's runoff vote - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist party challenger Francois Hollande.

Hours later and several kilometers away from the National Front rally, President Sarkozy held his own May Day gathering in Paris.

In interviews like this recent one on French radio, Sarkozy says it is important to listen to French who voted for the National Front.  Theirs is a call of anger and despair, he says, at a time when the French economy is ailing and unemployment is close to 10 percent.

Le Pen is not endorsing President Sarkozy or Hollande.  And her supporters, like student Helene Justin, are uncertain about how they will cast their ballots.

Justin says she is not really happy with either choice.  Justin says that as far as she is concerned, the two are about the same and only care about the elite.

Retiree Gerard Virginier expressed similar sentiments.

Virginier says he is turned off by both candidates, but especially by Sarkozy.  He accuses Sarkozy of stealing the National Front's agenda when he first ran for office in 2007 - and then failing to honor it as president.

During these tough economic times, many French have identified with the National Front's anti-European Union and anti-immigration message.  Nearly one in five voters cast ballots for Le Pen in the first round.

How they vote in this runoff may determine its outcome. Sarkozy is expected to lose without a massive amount of National Front support.

Analyst Philip Whyte is with the Center for European Reform, in London.

"In the campaigning in the second round, Sarkozy has definitely been flirting with the voters of the National Front," said Whyte. "And that's manifested itself in two areas in particular.  The first is on immigration - he's been making some relatively hostile remarks on immigration.  And second, he's been making much more protectionist noises on economic policy."

Polls have suggested Sarkozy will be defeated in Sunday's final vote. Sarkozy has just days to convince National Front voters to back him for another term.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs