Paris : France’s far-right National Front (FN) saw record gains in the first round of regional polls Sunday, held under a state of emergency just three weeks after Islamic extremists killed 130 people in Paris.
The FN came first with between 27.2 and 30.3 percent of the vote nationwide and topped the list in at least six of 13 regions, according to early estimates.
FN leader Marine Le Pen and her 25-year-old niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen broke the 40-percent mark in their respective regions, shattering previous records for the party as they tapped into voter anger over a stagnant economy and security fears linked to Europe’s refugee crisis.
Marine Le Pen, a lawyer by training, welcomed the “magnificent result”, saying it proved the FN was “without contest the first party of France”.
A grouping of right-wing parties took between 26.2 and 27.4 percent, the exit poll estimates showed, while the ruling Socialist party and its allies took 22.6-23.5 percent.
The polls were held under tight security following France’s worst-ever terror attacks, which have thrust the FN’s anti-immigration and often Islamophobic message to the fore.
Around half the 45 million registered voters took part in the polls.