France’s anti-immigrant Front National was on track to win at least 14 towns in local elections, beating its previous record amid public dissatisfaction with President Francois Hollande’s Socialists.
But the Socialists retained control of Paris town hall in local elections on Sunday as their candidate Anne Hidalgo comfortably won the mayoralty.
Promising to be the mayor of “all Parisians,” Miss Hidalgo hailed her historic win as the “victory for a Left-wing that remains faithful to its ideal.”
Miss Hidalgo said: “As the first woman mayor of Paris, I am aware of the challenge that this represents.”
The victory is some consolation for Mr Hollande’s ruling party, which according to partial tallies and exit polls was on track to lose its grip on dozens of major towns elsewhere across France.
After winning the northern town of Henin-Beaumont in round one, the FN took at least 13 more towns, including Béziers in the southwest and Fréjus, population 84,000, on the Riviera. Its best ever previous score was three, in 1995.
The Front National scored a major victory by claiming the mayorship of the 7th sector of Marseille, putting it in charge of 150,000 people.
“We have moved onto a new level,” Marine Le Pen, FN leader, claimed. “There is now a third major political force in our country.”
But the FN failed to take Avignon, where the Socialists won, or Perpignan and Forbach.
Some 80 per cent of the French want President Hollande to dismiss Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, according to a Harris Interactive poll this week, and Manuel Valls, the ambitious and tough-talking interior minister, is their favourite to replace him.
Despite the strong showing for the FN, the centre-Right opposition UMP party, also regained control from the Left of the majority of towns and cities of more than 9,000 inhabitants.
These included Reims, Saint-Etienne, Roubaix and Quimper.
Source: The Telegraph