Far-right National Front party storms to victory in French regional elections
A far-right party with a homophobic past has topped the polls in France’s regional elections.
In the first round of voting, the country’s National Front party (Front Nationale) beat out both the governing Socialist Party and the centre-right opposition.
Marine Le Pen’s FN party was ahead in at least six of France’s 13 regions, with exit polls showing the party attracted more than 30% of the vote – eight points ahead of President François Hollande’s governing Socialist Party.
The FN’s rise in popularity, which pundits claim is party a result of the Paris terrorist attacks last month, has raised concerns about the homophobic and anti-Semitic views that are mainstream in the party.
The FN has previously been accused of fostering homophobic violence by aligning itself with aggressive anti-equal marriage factions – though it claims it has since reformed.
The party still a number of openly homophobic politicians who have attacked the “evil homosexual lobby” – though vice president Florian Philippot was outed last year by Closer magazine.
A second round of run-off voting is set to be held on 13 December, as the Socialists and Republicans seek to stem the rise of FN.
Marine Le Pen says the “magnificent result” means that FN was “without contest the first party of France”.
The party has previously signalled that it would strip away President Hollande’s equal marriage reforms, with Presidential and Parliamentary elections set for 2017.
Even UKIP leader Nigel Farage has previously ruled out working with Le Pen, accusing her party of “anti-Semitism and general prejudice”.