Former Trump adviser on European tour – plans to set up new European populist ‘Movement’

Leading figures in ‘The Movement’, an alliance of European populists – (left to right) former Trump adviser Steve Bannon; Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini; and Brussels-based Jewish lawyer Mischael Modrikamen

Steve Bannon, the controversial former adviser to President Trump and former executive chairman of Breitbart News, is touring European capitals this week and meeting a range of political leaders.

Bannon plans to develop a pan-European alliance of populist forces under the label ‘The Movement’. This was officially registered in January by a Belgian lawyer called Mischael Modrikamen, who is a well-known figure in the Jewish community in Brussels and leader of a tiny party called the People’s Party.

Modrikamen is a friend and ally of Nigel Farage, through whom he was introduced to Bannon.

The most important figures already signed up to ‘The Movement’ are Italian deputy prime minister and interior minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigration Lega, and his ally Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d’Italia (‘Brothers of Italy’), the most significant of several groups that grew out of the former fascist party MSI.

Steve Bannon with Giorgia Meloni last weekend at the conference of her ‘post-fascist’ party Fratelli d’Italia

Bannon spoke at the Fratelli d’Italia conference in Rome last weekend. He told an enthusiastic crowd: “Trump and Brexit and [the Italian general election in] March 2018 are all inextricably linked: it’s a rejection of the way things are and it’s a way forward … it’s the little guy saying ‘we have a better idea’ … and the first thing is a rejection of what the elites have foisted on Western civilization.”

After Rome, Bannon went on to Prague where he met Czech President Milos Zeman, who comes from a very different political tradition to Bannon’s Italian hosts. While Salvini’s roots are in regional separatism and Meloni’s are in the postwar development of Italy’s fascist tradition, President Zeman is one of the last of the old Eastern European politicians rooted in a version of socialism. A Communist party member until 1970, Zeman created the Social Democratic Party and was a centre-left Prime Minister for several years, but more recently has moved towards a radically anti-immigration populism, winning re-election as President earlier this year.

Like Bannon’s other allies, Zeman is closer to Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin than to the liberal elites who control the European Union.



Setback for Le Pen in French Assembly election

Marine-Le-Pen 2017

A month after her defeat in the French Presidential election (where she had been only the second FN candidate ever to reach the second round run-off) Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) had disappointing results yesterday in the first round of parliamentary elections to the French National Assembly.

The FN polled just under 3 million votes (13.2%), down from 3.5m (13.6%) at the previous Assembly election in 2012, and 7.7m (21.3%) in the presidential first round just seven weeks ago.

One feature of yesterday’s election was a sharp drop in turnout, down to 48.7% from 57.2% in 2012.  Indeed before 2012 even these Assembly elections always had turnouts over 60%: in the 1980s and earlier turnout was over 70%.

This widespread disillusionment with the political process is not a strong foundation for the new French President, former Rothschild banker turned ‘centrist’ politician Emmanuel Macron, whose new party En Marche! seems set for a landslide victory in next week’s second round.

The new party formed by President Emmanuel Macron is set for a landslide majority in the French Assembly.

The new party formed by President Emmanuel Macron is set for a landslide majority in the French Assembly.

Macron’s manifesto is bland and vacuous even by modern political standards, so once in office he is bound to alienate some sections of his present support.

Marine Le Pen correctly points out that the two-round system is heavily biased against her party, unlike the proportional voting used in 1986, which allowed her father Jean-Marie Le Pen and his supporters to win 35 Assembly seats.  In 2012 the FN took only two seats, having had none in 2007 and only one member re-elected in 1988, 1993, 1997 and 2002.

Normally the top two candidates in the first round progress into next week’s run-off (though in a handful of cases either one candidate will be elected immediately by winning a majority of the electorate in the first ballot; or a third candidate will qualify for the second-round by managing 12.5% or more of the electorate in the first-round – note these percentages relate to the electorate, not merely those who turn out – so they are high hurdles to jump.)

In 2012 the two FN Assembly winners were both in southern France. Marion Maréchal Le Pen (the leader’s niece) was elected last time aged 22, but temporarily stepped aside from politics before this year’s election, partly due to differences with her aunt.  She clearly disagreed with some of the party’s present direction, being both more socially conservative than Marine on issues such as same-sex marriage; more traditionally ‘hardline’ on racial/religious/immigration questions; less interested in appeasing international Zionism; and less concerned with pursuing quasi-socialist appeals to working-class voters.

27-year-old Marion Maréchal Le Pen, seen here with her grandfather FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, stood down at this election and is temporarily withdrawing from politics after disagreements with her aunt Marine Le Pen.

27-year-old Marion Maréchal Le Pen, seen here with her grandfather FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, stood down at this election and is temporarily withdrawing from politics after disagreements with her aunt Marine Le Pen.

Marion Maréchal’s Vaucluse constituency was in a prosperous region of South West France, contrasting with her aunt’s working-class power base in the far north. Her successor Hervé de Lépinau finished second with 31.8%, qualifying for next week’s second round but faces a tough battle with En Marche! candidate Brune Poirson, who topped the first round with 32.1%.

Similarly the FN’s other 2012 victor – barrister and Marine Le Pen loyalist Gilbert Collard – has a tough second round after narrowly topping the poll with 32.3%. His second-round opponent is female ex-bullfighter Marie Sara, one of several celebrity candidates for En Marche!, who took 32.2% in the first round.

One of the FN's two Assembly winners in 2012 – Gilbert Collard – is likely to lose his seat in the Gard region of the far south (part of the area once known as Languedoc).

One of the FN’s two Assembly winners in 2012 – Gilbert Collard – is likely to lose his seat in the Gard region of the far south (part of the area once known as Languedoc).

Marine Le Pen herself easily won the first round with 46.0% in her constituency near Calais, but even here she is not absolutely guaranteed election if the left rallies behind her En Marche! opponent, since the FN has already taken almost all of the right-wing vote here: the mainstream conservatives polled only 4.2% and the UKIP-style party DLF just 0.8%.

The leader of DLF – former Farage ally Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who reneged on a proposed parliamentary pact with the FN a few weeks ago – looks to be in trouble in his constituency, a prosperous suburb south of Paris which he has represented for 20 years. He finished second with 29.8%, behind En Marche! candidate Antoine Pavamani on 35.8%. Dupont-Aignan will struggle to survive in next week’s second round.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (right), seen here with his former ally Nigel Farage, is likely to lose his Assembly seat after reneging on a proposed pact with the FN.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (right), seen here with his former ally Nigel Farage, is likely to lose his Assembly seat after reneging on a proposed pact with the FN.

Sadly it now looks impossible for the FN to hit the important total of 15 National Assembly members, which would allow it to form an official parliamentary group with significant funding and guaranteed influence on important parliamentary committees. (In this respect the collapse of the deal with Dupont-Aignan might no longer be relevant, though it had been assumed that the latter’s support could be crucial in clearing the 15-seat hurdle.)

Though 118 FN candidates have qualified for next Sunday’s second round, a likely maximum target is ten Assembly seats, though they could easily slip to five or fewer: in which case (though this would still be the second-best parliamentary election in FN history) there will be serious questions within the party as to whether Marine Le Pen’s path of modernising and “de-demonisation” has been worth pursuing.



Le Pen polls best ‘far right’ result since Second World War

Marine Le Pen is likely to poll around 15% in this year's French presid.ential election, but is very unlikely to qualify for the second round run-off

Marine Le Pen polled 34% in this year’s French presidential election.

[spacer height=”20px”]In the second round of the French presidential election, National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen achieved the best ‘far right’ election result since the Second World War, facing former Rothschild banker Emmanuel Macron, who only a year ago formed his own political party En Marche!

Marine Le Pen has won 34%, against 66% for Macron. Around 11% – 4 million French voters cast a “blank” ballot, a record total indicating Macron’s failure to mobilise support among many trade unionists and socialists.

The result represents about double the FN vote on its only previous second round appearance: in 2002 the party’s founder Jean-Marie Le Pen polled 17.8%.

The past year has seen traditional French political parties crushed. Incumbent Socialist President François Hollande was so unpopular that he didn’t even stand for re-election. His replacement as Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon polled only 6.4%. One commentator on the BBC has just admitted: “the Socialist Party as we knew it is now dead.”

Former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy failed to win his party’s nomination, and his replacement – neo-Thatcherite François Fillon – finished a poor third in the first round with 20.0%, only just ahead of a Marxist candidate.

One consequence of this collapse of traditional parties is that neither Macron nor Le Pen has significant backing in the French parliament, the National Assembly: there will be parliamentary elections later this year.

Macron – a French version of Tony Blair – has won this election. But his pretence to represent something “new” and “anti-establishment” is so thin, and his political programme so utterly vacuous, that Marine Le Pen and the FN can look forward with confidence to representing the future of France: provided they hold the nerve and avoid the ever present temptation of grovelling to the globalisers.

Best ever vote for French National Front

Marine Le Pen - FN Congress

Marine Le Pen of the French National Front (Front National) has qualified for the second-round run-off in the French presidential elections with 21.3%, according to official final results from the first round released this afternoon. She will face ‘centrist’ candidate Emmanuel Macron in the second round, after Macron won the first round with 24.0%.

We should also bear in mind that the traditionalist conservative and eurosceptic Nicolas Dupont-Aignan polled 4.7% – better than expected – which ought logically to go to Marine Le Pen in the second round. By contrast the official conservative candidate François Fillon confirmed last night that the mainstream French right has committed suicide: he called on his supporters to vote for Macron in the second round – indicating that whatever happens in two weeks time, only Le Pen and the FN stand for genuine change in France.

The previous best FN result was in 2002, when Mme Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen (the party’s founder) won 16.9% and similarly qualified for the second round.

Speaking to FN activists last night, Marine Le Pen said:

You have brought me to the second round of the presidential election. I’d like to express my most profound gratitude. The first step that should lead the French people to the l’Elysée has been taken. This is a historic result.

It is also an act of French pride, the act of a people lifting their heads. It will have escaped no one that the system tried by every means possible to stifle the great political debate that must now take place. The French people now have a very simple choice: either we continue on the path to complete deregulation, or you choose France.

You now have the chance to choose real change. This is what I propose: real change/ It is time to liberate the French nation from arrogant elites who want to dictate how it must behave. Because yes, I am the candidate of the people.

The May-June 2017 edition of Heritage and Destiny will carry extended analysis of the French election and other European developments that contrast with the dismal state of racial nationalism (and even the UKIP-style right) in the UK.


Le Pen stays ahead as French Conservatism dies

Marine-Le-Pen 2017

French National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen is set to win the first round of the French presidential election on April 23rd, as polls confirm the death of French conservatism. While Mme Le Pen is likely to lose the decisive second round to ‘centrist’ candidate and former Rothschild banker Emmanuel Macron, time is on her side: French voters’ resistance to globalisation spells long term victory for the FN.

Today’s Observer reports from ‘forgotten France’, the Yonne area south of Paris, typical of the areas where the FN is registering strong support among young voters.  Nor is this restricted to the ‘underclass’: there are now growing FN branches inside elite universities.

The latest polls suggest that the candidate of neo-Thatcherite conservatism – former Prime Minister François Fillon – might slip to fourth place, defeated not only by Le Pen and Macron but by extreme-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has been the dark horse of the campaign in the past fortnight.  In fact if the extreme-left had been able to unite behind a single candidate, the second round would probably have seen Le Pen v Mélenchon rather than Le Pen v Macron.

Arguably French politics should no longer be seen as Left v Right, but rather as Globalist v Nationalist.

Just over half of French voters remain wedded to their national traditions, against the chill winds of deracinated globalism. But this majority is itself evenly split between those who have opted for Le Pen’s FN and those who remain with some variety of 20th century leftism.

The traditionalist majority is opposed by a globalist minority – but most do not wish to face the full brutal logic of globalism, represented by Fillon’s policies of Thatcher-style cuts and deregulation, which would make France more like the UK or even the USA. It doesn’t help their cause when Fillon himself – while preaching austerity and state cutbacks for other Frenchmen – is found to have been profiting outrageously (and perhaps illegally) from lavish state payments to his wife for non-jobs!

Le Pen thanks Britain for “showing us the way out of this huge prison”


In a live radio interview this evening on LBC with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen thanked UK voters for their Brexit referendum vote.

“We had been told that it was not possible to leave the EU, and the UK has just demonstrated that, when the people want it, we can set up the conditions to exit the EU. So thank you for showing us the way out of this huge prison.”

The FN leader criticised her main rival in the presidential contest – left-liberal Emmanuel Macron – for his stance on immigration, and expressed disappointment at Theresa May’s decision to meet with Macron but refuse to meet her.

“I find it difficult to understand the consistency of ideas and convictions in this approach. He went to Algeria and he explained it was necessary to build a bridge as it were between Europe and Algeria for even more immigration which is the opposite of what Brexit stands for and the choice made by the British people. I don’t understand this inconsistency this contradiction between what Theresa May stands for today because she has decided to be the woman who will implement Brexit.”

Le Pen Presidential Campaign Panics Liberal Media

Marine Le Pen - FN Congress

Establishment media commentators are increasingly panicked by the prospect of Marine Le Pen being elected President of France on May 7th.  The Financial Times today reports: “Marine Le Pen has a better chance in France than you think”.  The venerable Andreas Whittam Smith in The Independent speculates: “This is what would have to go wrong for Marine Le Pen to win the presidential election”.  New Statesman correspondent Stephen Bush suggests that Marine Le Pen can still win the presidency.  While Sky News Europe correspondent Mark Stone has just posted a report on “Why Marine Le Pen’s message resonates across France”.

Let’s be clear – the odds remain heavily against Marine Le Pen winning (this time) because of the French electoral system.  Probably around ten candidates will qualify for the first round of the presidential election on April 23rd, and opinion polls have for some time been almost unanimous in showing that Marine Le Pen will be ahead in this first round, with something like 27% of the nationwide vote.

But she would then have to win a second round against the runner-up.

Conservative presidential candidate François Fillon: once favourite, now his campaign is in crisis

Conservative presidential candidate François Fillon: once favourite, now his campaign is in crisis

For some time this looked likely to be a Thatcher-style conservative – François Fillon of the Republicans, who under the former name UMP were led by former Presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy.

But following financial scandals it looks likely that Fillon might be overtaken by the ex-socialist Emmanuel Macron, who created his own centrist party last year and has enjoyed a surge of media-fuelled support (similar to the SDP over here in the early 1980s).

Macron’s chances have been boosted by today’s endorsement from François Bayrou, a relic of the more “moderate” conservatism which ruled France in the 1970s under President Giscard – the type of politics which founded and still dominates European Union bureaucracies. Bayrou split his own party in 2007 to form the “Democracy Movement”: by supporting Macron this year he has effectively declared the death of “moderate” French conservatism.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose politics are similar to Bayrou, must be looking on nervously as she faces her own struggle for re-election on September 24th this year.

Liberal media favourite Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Downing St this week: he now looks most likely to face Marine Le Pen in the second ballot run-off for the Presidency.

Liberal media favourite Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Downing St this week: he now looks most likely to face Marine Le Pen in the second ballot run-off for the Presidency.

Meanwhile in fourth place are the ruling Socialists.  Though incumbent President François Hollande decided not to stand for re-election, and his party opted for the most far-left alternative candidate Benoît Hamon, polls suggest that Hamon has in a matter of weeks doubled the pathetic vote that Hollande would have polled.  Hamon (15%) seems to be no longer too far behind Fillon and Macron (each on around 20%).

However there are candidates even further to the left than Hamon, such as former minister Jean-Luc Mélenchon (12%) and an assortment of Trotskyists and Greens (about 3% combined).  Only if Mélenchon quits the race does it seem possible for Hamon to qualify for the second round.

And – realistically – this would be the most obvious chance for Marine Le Pen.  Regardless of “anti-fascist” demonisation, would French conservatives really elect a President from the far left to defeat her?  (The only presidential challenger to her hegemony over the non-conservative right is perennial traditionalist candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who though a long-term ally of Nigel Farage and UKIP only polls around 3%.)

Benoît Hamon – Socialist candidate – will reach the second round only if he can unite the far left

Benoît Hamon – Socialist candidate – will reach the second round only if he can unite the far left

More interesting (especially in the longer term) is the alternative scenario.  Increasing numbers of working-class French voters (including former socialists/communists) see Marine Le Pen and her party as champions of the worker against the pitiless, international and cosmopolitan values of the “free” market.  She has achieved this – remarkably – without suffering too many damaging splits within her own movement.

Marine Le Pen has long recognised this trend.  While trying to “de-demonise” the party in some areas, such as her (so-far fruitless) attempts to appeal to Zionist/Jewish opinion by stressing a common front against radical Islam, she has in terms of economic/financial policy been far more radical than her father, who at one time was aligned with Reaganites and Thatcherites in an anti-communist, pro-capitalist stance.

Even if Hamon makes it into the second round, the French left is surely bankrupt.  Marine Le Pen and the FN have a great chance of reaching the Elysée Palace – if not this year then in 2022.


Illiterate Mail on Sunday hack interviews Farage

Economist cover

The main story in today’s Mail on Sunday is an interview with Nigel Farage by the paper’s political editor, Simon Walters.  Farage indicates that he might stand again for Parliament, if the present investigation of allegedly illegal Tory election spending leads to a by-election in South Thanet, the Kent constituency where he polled 32.4% at last year’s general election.

Whether this means that Farage will stay in UKIP, or will go ahead with his long-planned breakaway to set up a new movement backed by Arron Banks’s money, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile we were distracted by a staggering display of political and historical illiteracy on the part of Mr Walters. The Mail on Sunday political editor writes:
“The front cover of this week’s Economist magazine shows Trump, Putin and Farage as militaristic 19th Century nationalists, strutting the world stage – in step. It’s a terrifying thought for many.”

The Economist cover was clearly a pastiche of this famous painting, 'The Spirit of '76'

The Economist cover was clearly a pastiche of this famous painting, ‘The Spirit of ’76’

H&D readers will be used to the Mail on Sunday‘s customary hysteria regarding nationalism, but this latest solecism is truly astonishing: it is perfectly obvious that the Economist cover is actually a pastiche of one of the most famous American historical paintings, Spirit of ’76, by Archibald Willard.  Far from displaying “militaristic 19th Century nationalists”, the painting depicts 18th century American revolutionaries (obviously viewed as heroic by the artist).

Even if Mr Walters is ignorant of art and history, surely he has seen the 1963 film The Great Escape, in which Spirit of ’76 is mimicked by Steve McQueen and two fellow POWs on the 4th of July.


Meanwhile the background figure on the Economist cover is another pastiche, this time depicting Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, in the guise of Liberty Leading the People, the allegorical painting by Delacroix showing the Goddess of Liberty at the head of French revolutionaries in July 1830.

In other words all four of these figures whom Mr Walters and the Mail on Sunday clearly view as sinister – Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen – are actually being portrayed by positive (indeed heroic) artistic references!


Similarly, the Economist's portrayal of Marine Le Pen was a reference to this famous painting by Delacroix, 'Liberty Leading the People'.

Similarly, the Economist’s portrayal of Marine Le Pen was a reference to this famous painting by Delacroix, ‘Liberty Leading the People’.


Establishment halts National Front advance – for now…

(FILE) A file picture dated 12 February 2012 of Marine Le Pen, leader of French far-right political party National Front (FN) arrive on stage to deliver a speech during a meeting at the Palais des Congres, in Strasbourg, France.ANSA/YOAN VALAT

Marine Le Pen’s National Front has achieved its best ever election results, despite a second round coalition of establishment parties denying the FN control of any regions.

A desperate effort by the French establishment parties of the old left and right prevented Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) from winning control of any regions in today’s second round elections, despite the astonishing success of the FN in topping the poll in six regions of France last weekend.

The party leader celebrated “the inexorable rise, in election after election, of the national movement. By tripling the number of our regional councillors, the FN will from now on be the primary opposition force in most of France’s regional councils.”

Marine Le Pen added that the true division in politics today was “not left versus right, but globalists versus patriots”.

The FN leader was defeated in her Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region by conservative candidate Xavier Bertrand who polled 57.2% to Marine Le Pen’s 42.8%. One positive effect should be that over the next couple of years Marine Le Pen will be able to remind working-class voters in her region that its conservative rulers were put into power by the “socialist” leadership.

An even closer result was achieved in the FN’s old stronghold of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, where the leader’s 26-year-old niece Marion Maréchal Le Pen also lost to a socialist-backed conservative by 54.8% to 45.2%.

In the new eastern region of Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine, another conservative defeated a strong FN campaign despite the fact that (unlike in the two regions just mentioned) the socialist candidate refused to withdraw.  Here one of the FN’s five vice-presidents Florian Philippot remained in second place with 36.1%, ahead of the socialist’s 15.5% but behind the conservative’s 48.4%.

Conversely in another three-cornered fight in the southern region of Languedoc-Rousillon-Midi-Pyrénees, fellow FN vice-president Louis Aliot lost to a socialist by 43.1% to 35.6%, with the conservative trailing in third place.

And in the closest result of the second round – another three-cornered fight in the Burgundy region – local MEP Sophie Montel of the FN slipped from first to third place with 32.4%, behind the socialist victor on 34.7% and the conservative on 32.9%!  The socialist came from third place last week to win the second round.  The explanation (here as across the country) was partly a rise in turnout, in this case from 48.2% to 58.2%, with previously apathetic voters responding to the media and establishment’s appeal to block the FN, and partly the transfer of votes from those who had backed small leftist or green parties in the first round.

Similarly in the Central / Loire Valley region (which includes the town of Dreux where the FN had its first electoral breakthrough in 1983), FN candidate Philippe Loiseau slipped from first to third place, with 30.0%, and the socialist again won the second round after a third-place last weekend.

Across the whole country (with 97% of votes counted) the FN polled more than 6.8 million second round votes (up from 6.1 million last weekend) – roughly 27.5% of the nationwide vote.  Turnout rose from 49.9% in the first round to 58.5% in the second.

Sensational gains for French National Front

Figaro - Le Pen - shock

FN leading party nationwide

Marine Le Pen leads first round with 40.6% in Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie;
Marion Maréchal-Le Pen also leads first round with 40.6% in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur ;
Florian Philippot leads first round with 36.1% in Alsace-Lorraine-Champagne-Ardenne 

First results from the French regional elections indicate that the National Front (FN) is now the country’s leading party, with party leader Marine Le Pen on course to become president of the region around Calais – an area with a population of six million which also includes many depressed former industrial areas.

It appears that in Calais itself Marine Le Pen won more than 50% of the vote, and around 60% in the FN stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont.

The two-round system used in the French regional elections will undoubtedly prevent FN victories in next week’s second round in many of the six regions where the party was in first place today, but Marine Le Pen in the north and her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen in the southern region around the Côte d’Azur have probably built up such a strong lead that they cannot be stopped, even by an alliance of the establishment parties.

Moreover there are signs of dissent within that establishment, some Socialists saying that they will withdraw in favour of conservative anti-FN candidates in the second round, while former President Nicolas Sarkozy says that he will oppose any conservative withdrawals.

Across the whole of France (with about 98% of first round votes counted) the FN vote averaged 28.0% making them the largest party, more than double their 11.4% vote in 2010, and ahead of the conservatives on 26.9% (up 0.9%) and the governing socialists on 23.3% (down 5.8%).  Most of the remaining votes were scattered among various far left and green parties, though UKIP’s ally Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and his DLF party polled around 3.9% nationwide (scoring best in their leader’s home base near Paris).

DLF polled around 2.4% in Marine Le Pen’s region and 2.0% in Marion Maréchal-Le Pen’s region, so if their votes transfer solidly this could push the FN closer to regional victories next week. This would be the first time that the party has held power at regional level – and is especially significant because several regions are now even bigger following boundary changes. Marine Le Pen’s region, for example, is larger than Denmark.

Aside from the two Le Pen regions, the FN also led in the north-east region of Alsace-Lorraine-Champagne-Ardenne, where the party list headed by Florian Philippot (one of the FN’s vice-presidents who has been targeted in a homosexual scandal) managed a first round vote of 36.1%. Support from the left would probably have been enough to allow the conservatives to overtake M. Philippot in the second round, but latest news is that the third-placed socialist candidate will stay on the ballot (unlike his counterparts in the two strongest FN regions) – so M. Philippot has a great chance of winning a three-cornered fight next weekend.

In the region around Burgundy the FN’s Sophie Montel (also an MEP) leads the first round with 31.5%; while in the Central/Loire Valley region (which includes the town of Dreux where the FN had its first electoral breakthrough in 1983) the FN ‘s Philippe Loiseau was in the lead with 30.5%.  Each of these will remain close three-cornered fights in next weekend’s second round, as will the southern region around Languedoc, where the FN’s vice-president Louis Aliot (leading advocate of the party’s closer relationship with Israel) led the first round with 31.8%.

So in total the FN was in first place in six giant regions of France. In addition the party was a close second with 27.7% in Normandy, where its list was headed by Nicolas Bay, a former leader of the party’s youth wing who joined the breakaway MNR during the FN’s split in 1998 but was accepted back into the FN in 2009.

For the first time the turnout in a French regional election fell to barely 50%, in a further sign of the crisis of confidence in mainstream politics. We can expect a week of solid ‘anti-fascist’ propaganda in a last desperate effort by the French socialists to get their vote out next Sunday.

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