FRANCE/FILE: French far-right celebrates as local elections branded "defeat for government" by Prime...
- Title: FRANCE/FILE: French far-right celebrates as local elections branded "defeat for government" by Prime Minister Ayrault
- Date: 31st March 2014
- Summary: NANTERRE, FRANCE (MARCH 30, 2014) (AGENCY POOL) (** BEWARE FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY **) VARIOUS OF LEADER OF FAR-RIGHT NATIONAL FRONT PARTY, MARINE LE PEN, ARRIVING TO GIVE NEWS CONFERENCE CROWD APPLAUDING LE PEN (SOUNDBITE) (French) LEADER OF FAR-RIGHT NATIONAL FRONT PARTY, MARINE LE PEN, SAYING: "France is sickly and the back-and-forth between the (centre-right) UMP party and the Socialists doesn't change anything. I think that more and more French people understand this message, and are trying to get out of the UMP/Socialist rut. That's proved by the huge push for the National Front, the 'navy blue' movement (pun on Le Pen's name), and for them these elections have undeniably been a great success." PARIS, FRANCE (MARCH 30, 2014) (AGENCY POOL) EXTERIOR OF CENTRE-RIGHT UMP PARTY HEADQUARTERS VARIOUS OF CENTRE-RIGHT UMP PARTY ACTIVISTS CELEBRATING AT HEADQUARTERS (SOUNDBITE) (French) CENTRE-RIGHT UMP PARTY LEADER JEAN-FRANCOIS COPE SAYING: "Today what matters is how will President Hollande take this message and how will we finally be able to change those politics which are completely disastrous for the country." VICTORIOUS SOCIALIST CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR OF PARIS, ANNE HIDALGO, ARRIVING TO GIVE SPEECH (SOUNDBITE) (French) VICTORIOUS SOCIALIST CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR OF PARIS, ANNE HIDALGO, SAYING: "I am the first woman to be mayor of Paris (CROWD APPLAUDS). I am aware of the challenge that represents. I will be the mayor of this town which never cheats, neither with its anger, nor with its ideals, nor with its honour. I will be the mayor of all Parisians, male and female, without exception." HIDALGO WAVING, AUDIENCE CLAPPING, PHOTOGRAPHERS, HIDALGO LEAVING NEWS CONFERENCE
- Reuters ID: LVAC59Z5GDIZ7D91Z1ZODRPNQBYK
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:01:49
- Topics: Politics
- Story Text: France's far right celebrates as provisional results indicate significant gains in municipal elections and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault brands his Socialist party's showing a "defeat".
France's National Front (FN) was celebrating on Sunday (March 30) with provisional results showing a record win for the far-right party in local elections as the ruling Socialists were hammered and talk of a government reshuffle grew.
Early indications were that the protectionist, anti-EU party of Marine Le Pen was set to take control of 11 towns across the country, easily surpassing a past record in the 1990s when it ruled in four.
At least another 140 towns were to swing from the left to the mainstream opposition UMP as voters punished French President Francois Hollande for his failure to turn around the euro zone's second largest economy and above all to tackle an unemployment rate stuck at more than 10 percent.
While Hollande himself, who surveys show is the least popular leader in France's 56-year-old Fifth Republic, will remain in power, the question is whether he will replace Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose government has been accused of amateurishness and of being paralysed by policy splits.
"This vote as much at a local level as at a national one is a defeat for the government and for the majority," Ayrault said on Sunday evening, saying he accepted his share of the responsibility.
Provisional results gave the National Front its 11 wins largely in the south of the country, which has a tradition of anti-immigrant feeling, but also in northern and eastern districts suffering from France's industrial decline.
The FN's victories included the towns of Beziers, Le Pontet, Frejus, Beaucaire, Le Luc, Camaret-sur-Aigues and Cogolin in the south, and Villers-Cotteret and Hayange in the north. It already made a breakthrough in last week's first round by winning power in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont.
"France is sickly and the back-and-forth between the UMP and the Socialists doesn't change anything. I think that more and more French people understand this message, and are trying to get out of the UMP/Socialist rut," Le Pen said as she welcomed the results.
Meanwhile, cheers rang out at UMP party headquarters in Paris as the party looked set to scoop 140 towns in a result its leader Jean-Francois Cope said was a message to Hollande.
"Today what matters is how President Hollande takes this message and how we will finally be able to change those politics which are completely disastrous for the country," he said.
In some consolation for Hollande, Socialists retained control of Paris city hall, with their candidate Anne Hidalgo due to become the first female mayor there.
But the Socialists were set to cede power in cities such as Toulouse, Angers and Quimper, while the conservative UMP saw off a challenge to its rule in the port of Marseille, although the Front National won in the city's seventh district.
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