Far-right Front National poised for key role in French local elections

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The elimination of the Left in the first round of voting in a recent local by-election in which the Front National came top has sparked fevered speculation about how Marine Le Pen's far-right party is likely to perform in next year's crucial municipal elections. A recently-published and detailed analysis of voting trends suggests the FN could have a major role to play in some areas. But, as Mathieu Magnaudeix reports, the study says the outcome will probably depend on how well the economy performs between now and next spring.

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The far-right Front National (FN) will play a key role in next year's local council elections in France, even if Marine Le Pen's party is unlikely to seize control of many, if any, councils. That is one of the main findings of an exhaustive study of the country's local election results since 2004, carried out by political expert Denys Pouillard, the director of the political monitoring unit the Observatoire de la vie politique et parlementaire (OVPP). This recently-published report, which is also based on interviews with key local figures, is being actively studied by the prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as the government plans its strategy for elections that will be a first real test of its popularity since François Hollande's election in May 2012 and the Socialist Party's victory in the parliamentary elections a month later.