French far-right candidate wins key local by-election
PARIS - France 24
Front National Front party candidate, Laurent Lopez, gives a thumbs up after winning the second round of the local by-election in Brignoles October 13, 2013. REUTERS photo
France's far-right National Front (FN) won a bellwether by-election on Sunday, cementing the party's status as a major political force.
The eurosceptic and anti-immigration party founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972 has for years been largely regarded as a pariah in French politics but it has gained significantly in strength and popularity in recent years under the leadership of Marine Le Pen (the daughter of Jean-Marie).
The party's candidate Laurent Lopez took 53.9 percent of the vote in the second round of the by-election in the southeastern town of Brignoles, officials in the Var department said. "I am very happy, it is an unambiguous result," said Lopez of his victory.
When the FN candidate made it into the run-off after the October 6 first round vote, it sent shockwaves across France and prompted calls by the ruling Socialists for a "republican front" to stem the party's progress.
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