Far-right sets off timebomb for Sarkozy's UMP party

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A cliffhanger by-election held in eastern France at the weekend saw the narrow victory of the socialist candidate over his far-right National Front party challenger. There was relief but no partying within the Socialist Party, which held the seat by a majority of just more than 800 votes and which on Monday sounded an alarm at the dangers ahead after this latest illustration of the upsurge in support for the far-right. Despite its defeat in the urns, the Front National credibly claimed a political victory over the mainstream parties and over the conservative UMP party in particular. Mediapart political affairs correspondent Hubert Huertas analyses the result which showed a significant section of the conservative electorate snubbed its party’s instructions by switching support to the far-right in the second-round playoff on Sunday, prompting Front National leader Marine Le Pen to say the mutiny offered "lots of promising information for the future".

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“I’m not rejoicing, I’m not exulting, I owe this success to Republican forces,” commented Frédéric Barbier, the Socialist Party candidate who emerged victorious in Sunday’s parliamentary by-election in the Doubs département (equivalent to a county) in eastern France, but which he won by the tightest of margins.