National Front Shocks France With First-Place Win

 
on May 25 2014 8:16 PM

The far-right National Front took first place in France's European Parliament elections Sunday as countries across the continent turned to extremist and anti-EU parties.

The Front Nationale, led by Marine Le Pen, captured its largest share of the French vote ever in its 40-year history with 25 percent, according to pollsters. The anti-immigration party has pledged to drastically cut immigration and reduce the influence of Islam.

President Hollande's Socialist Party crumbled to third place, garnering just 13 percent of the vote. The official opposition, the center-right UMP of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, had 21 percent.

At a triumphant press conference, Le Pen, daughter of FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, said "the sovereign people of France have spoken loud and clear."

She called on Hollande to dissolve the country's government and call elections. "The people have taken back the reins of their own destiny," she said. "This means policies of the French, for the French, by the French. They do not want to be ruled from outside."

Le Pen claims the party is now removed from its racist and anti-Semitic roots, with which it was synonymous under her father's leadership.

Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the National Front victory was "a political earthquake in France," while Ecology Minister Segolene Royal, Hollande's former life partner, said, "It's a shock on a global scale."

Far right and anti-EU parties did well Europe, with early indications that a neo-Nazi candidate for the NPD party could be elected in Germany -- giving the far-right a foothold there for the first time in decades.

In Greece the militant leftist, anti-Europe Syriza party topped the poll with around 27 percent of the vote and the extreme-right, neofascist Golden Dawn party looked set to enter the European Parliament for the first time, with three seats and around 9 percent of the vote.

The party was Greece's third most popular party and looked set to send three MEPs to Brussels.

The extremist anti-Islam Danish People's Party also came first in that country's elections. In Italy the Euroskeptic Five Star movement was tipped to come second.

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