For a fringe party in French politics, tonight was in fact a major victory for the far-right Front National. Marine Le Pen, the party’s candidate, has received the highest score of any presidential candidate in its 40-year history, according to Le Parisien.
IPSOS exit polling cited by Le Monde indicates she has won nearly 20 percent of the vote. This is twice the score that her father, Jean Marie, the party's founding president, won in the previous elections and outstrips his score of 17 percent in 2002.
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The result will cement Le Pen’s command of the movement that once heralded her father. But it also means that yet again at least one in five French voters has sided with a party that has its roots in 20th century fascism.
Jean Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father, has been convicted nearly 20 times of crimes including hate speech, racist and anti-Semitic remarks, assault and denying the Holocaust, war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to Wikipedia. He lost a lawsuit against Le Monde in 2005 which accused of him of torture in Algeria.
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Seeking a kinder, gentler image than that of her father, Marine Le Pen has rejected the “far-right” moniker and told Le Point last year that her party is “neither right nor left.”
At party headquarters in Paris, Le Nouvel Observateur reported today that there was an explosion of joy. The party’s Number 2, Louis Aliot described Marine Le Pen as “the promise of the future.” Eva Joly, the environmentalist former judge and a rival candidate, described the outcome as “an indelible stain on the values of our republic.”