Le Pen’s party hopes for more gains as France votes in regional run-off elections
“Remember Sunday: the nation is the only chance for France!” the 47-year-old politician wrote on Twitter ahead of the vote.
Dimanche rappelez-vous : le peuple est la seule chance pour la France ! MLP— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) December 11, 2015
“Considering the events [recent attacks in Paris], people are a little bit devastated; it's a bit difficult. It's tense and difficult, so we would like things to change,” one of the voters, Elisabeth, told RT’s Ruptly video news agency.
In the first round of France’s regional elections on December 6, the National Front (FN) secured 28 percent of the vote nationally, the Interior Ministry estimate. It was the best score ever for the anti-EU, anti-immigration party, which came first in six regions out of 13.
The FN came ahead of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative Les Républicains (formerly the UMP), which garnered 27 percent and President Francois Hollande ’s Socialist Party, which took only 23 percent of the vote nationwide.
Though the party gained overwhelming results in the first round, it now faces a tough challenge from its rivals in the second round. The Socialist Party announced it would withdraw candidates in three regions – the north, east and southeast, where FN made major success – and urge their supporters to vote for the Republicans in an attempt to prevent the far-right party from gaining power.
The party chief Jean-Christophe Cambadélis said this move would put up a “barricade” to the far right.
“This sacrifice will not be made in vain. It will show to the French nation that the Socialists rise to the Republic’s occasion,” he said.
Regional elections are viewed as a launch pad for the presidential elections in 2017, as victory may boost a candidate’s chances.
The number of regions in France has recently been reduced from 22 to 13, but the number of departments, making up the regions hasn’t changed.
Le Pen said the victory on December 6 was a "magnificent result" and welcomed it with “humility, seriousness and a deep sense of responsibility.”
“We are without question the first party of France," she added.
Support for the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front in 1972, has risen following major terror attacks in the French capital – the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January and the latest assaults on November 13.
Marine Le Pen has repeatedly slammed the EU’s handling of foreign and migrant policy, and has a reputation for her anti-immigration rhetoric.
On Tuesday, she spoke in the French city of Lille, blaming the "crazy immigration policy, made without discernment, and with the abandoning of the principle of assimilation" for the current situation in France.