PARIS, France — French far right National Front leader Marine Le Pen has made it through to the second round of parliamentary elections – after taking a commanding lead in the northern constituency of Henin-Beaumont, France Info reported.
In one of the mostly closely watched contests of the poll, Le Pen took 42.36 percent of votes, triumphing over Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who conceded defeat after coming third.
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Le Pen will face off against the Socialist Party's Philippe Kemel – who should collect most of the Mélenchon supporters – in next Sunday's second round vote.
According to French media reports, Len Pen stands a fair chance of winning her anti-immigration party's first seat in parliament since 1986.
Despite a high abstention rate of 42.77 percent, a total of 61 National Front members survived the first round vote, French radio RTL reported – adding that this falls short of the 150 to 200 candidates that party secretary general Steeve Briois had hoped would make the cut.
To remain in the race, candidates needed to garner an estimated 20 percent of the vote, Radio France Internationale reported. Of the National Front's 61 candidates doing battle in round two, 29 are facing a sole rival, while the rest are locked in a three-way contest.
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Following her first round victory in Henin-Beaumont, a depressed mining town near Lille, Len Pen told her supporters: "Given the abstention rate and a profoundly anti-democratic electoral system that has for 25 years deprived millions of voters of MPs, we confirm our position tonight as France's third political force."