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29 Sep, 2014 02:10

‘Historic victory’: Far-right National Front celebrates first French Senate seats

‘Historic victory’: Far-right National Front celebrates first French Senate seats

The French National Front party has secured a historic victory, grabbing two seats in the upper house of parliament for the first time, as the center-left government coalition loses its majority in the chamber and President Hollande's popularity sinks.

Half of the Senate's 348 seats were up for grabs on Sunday by an electoral college of 87,000 voters of city councilors and local officials. David Rachline from Fréjus in Southern France at 26 became the youngest French senator ever elected. The second victory for the National Front was secured by Stéphane Ravier from Marseilles.

“These results are beyond what we hoped for,” said the party's leader Marine Le Pen. “Each day that passes, our ideas are increasingly being adopted by the French people... We have great potential.”

This absolutely “historic victory” would bring a “breath of fresh air in a rather sleepy chamber,” Le Pen was cited by the Guardian as saying.

A man holds a vote for the former Prime Minister and opposition UMP party senator Jean-Pierre Raffarin during the senatorial election's vote counting, on September 28, 2014 in Poitiers. (AFP Photo / Guillaume Souvant)

“There is only one door left for us to push and it is that of the Elysee,” said Ravier, referring to the French presidential position held by the Socialist François Hollande, whose popularity hit rock bottom recently.

READ MORE:New unpopularity record: 86 percent of French reject Hollande

“There is a complete rejection of Socialist policies,” the center right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) senator Roger Karoutchi, whose party is also grabbing a few seats from the left, told BFM TV.

Final results are not expected until Monday, according to the Senate press office, but preliminary results show the UMP, the main opposition party , and the center-right UDI, taking at least 20 seats from the left. The left nevertheless still dominates the lower house of the French Parliament.

The National Front led by Le Pen has seen a good electoral record this year, taking over a dozen municipalities in elections last March, including the 7th district in Marseilles where Ravier was elected mayor. It also came top and secured 24 seats in the European Parliament elections, which demonstrated a marked shift towards both right-wing and Euroskeptic political parties.

READ MORE:The right storms Europe vote: Your quick guide to the anti-EU hardline