Saturday, April 22, 2006

Shocker: Le Pen gaining support in France.

France: Not a shocker considering almost the same thing is happening with the BNP in the UK.

PARIS, April 22 — France's far-right political party, the National Front, has emerged stronger than ever from the civil unrest that has plagued the country in the past six months, a new survey shows, suggesting that the party could play a major role in the presidential election next year. The National Front's outspoken and vehemently anti-immigration leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has had occasional bursts of support before: four years ago, he made it to the runoff for president, losing to President Jacques Chirac. But after riots by second-generation immigrant youth last fall, Mr. Le Pen's approval rating in polls surged five percentage points, to 21 percent, according to a survey by IFOP, a French polling institute, published Friday. That is not far behind the approval rating of Mr. Chirac's would-be successor, Dominique de Villepin, the embattled prime minister, whose score slumped to 29 percent this month amid the political fiasco when nationwide protests forced the government to scrap a new labor law. Frédéric Dabi, who wrote the report, said a string of national crises had bolstered Mr. Le Pen's standing, including the resounding rejection last year of a proposed European constitution, which was officially supported by Mr. Chirac's governing Union for a Popular Movement Party and the opposition Socialist Party. A nationwide outburst of vandalism and arson by the children of France's largely Muslim immigrants further played into Mr. Le Pen's hands: the National Front responded with a computer-generated video that showed Paris in flames beneath the banner, "Immigration, explosion in the suburbs, Le Pen foretold it." The image of French-Arab and French-African youths hurling bottles and stones at the country's antiriot police during the recent demonstrations against the labor law is only likely to reinforce support for Mr. Le Pen, Mr. Dabi said. "All of these crises were very different, but their common point is that they benefited parties outside the political system," Mr. Dabi said. The National Front holds no seats in Parliament, but it has up to 30 percent of the seats on some municipal councils, many seats on regional councils and seven seats in the European Parliament. More than a third of respondents in the IFOP survey said Mr. Le Pen's party was in tune with "the concerns of French people."

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