Supporters of Frances newly elected President François Hollande react after the early results during a victory rally at Place de la Bastille in Paris May 6, 2012. France voted in elections on Sunday and Hollande becomes the nations first Socialist president in seventeen years. Reuters/Charles Platiau
There are two ways of looking at the results of the first round of the French presidential vote. On the surface, voters chose to engineer a classic left-right competition by sending the Socialist candidate François Hollande and the outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy into the second round, on 6 May.
But that's far from the whole story. The biggest upset did not come, as was expected, from Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the maverick leftwing Socialist dissident in coalition with with the remains of the Communists – but from Marine Le Pen's far-right Front National.
An angry anti-establishment mood swept across France as voters in the first round of the presidential election delivered President Nicolas Sarkozy a distant second-place result and gave the extreme right-wing Marine Le Pen an unprecedented 20 per cent of the vote for third place.
Mr. Sarkozy’s main challenger, Socialist François Hollande, led a strong showing of 28.4 per cent, providing Mr. Sarkozy with a margin that will hard to beat in two weeks when they face off in the final vote.
The extreme-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is winning the youth vote in the buildup to the first round of voting, as she attempts to style herself as an "anti-elite" candidate railing against immigration and defending the soul of small-town France.
The leader of the Front National has the support of 26% of voters aged 18 to 24, according to a survey for Le Monde, with the Socialist Francois Hollande on 25%, Nicolas Sarkozy on 17% and the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 16%.
On Monday March 19 people began to suspect the extreme right of being responsible for the Toulouse massacre. By Wednesday March 21, debate settled on how Marine Le Pen might benefit from the fact that the alleged killer was an Islamist. Such a striking reversal of positions begs for some explanation. Why was an extreme right perpetrator seen as a likely lead? How does the Front National address issues of political violence? How did Marine Le Pen react to these events?
A radical underground
Mohammed Merah, the alleged murderer of several Muslim French soldiers and Jews, was just killed by a sniper with a shot to the head following a 32-hour standoff with police in Toulouse, France. One of the most salient facts about the killer, a professed Islamic radical seeking to avenge various indignities committed against Muslims by the West, is that he was a member of an outlawed French Salafist group called Forsanne Alizza, or the Knights of Pride.
A gunman on a motorbike opened fire Monday at a Jewish school, killing a rabbi and his two young sons as they waited for a bus, then chased down a 7-year-old girl, shooting her dead at point-blank range. It was the latest in a series of attacks on minorities that have raised fears of a racist killer on the loose.
VIENNA (AFP)---As many as 4,000 anti-fascist demonstrators gathered in Vienna late Friday, organisers said, to protest against a ball attended by European extreme-right figures including France's Marine Le Pen.
Accompanied by a large police presence, two groups of protestors marched along different routes and converged at Heldenplatz outside the Hofburg palace where the Wiener Korporationsring (WKR) ball was taking place.