Defining just who lies behind the blue-collar vote for France's far-right

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France is gearing up for municipal elections later this month when, political observers and opinion poll surveys forecast, the far-right Front National party is set to make significant gains. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, lays claim strong support among blue-collar workers, as illustrated by the vote the party attracted among a significant number of former left-wing heartlands during the 2012 presidential and legislative elections. This relatively recent development is often interpreted as a swing of allegiance on the part of a disillusioned electorate of the Left. But that perception is a myth according to the results of detailed studies by sociologists Nonna Mayer and Florent Gougou. They presented their research at a Paris conference on voting patterns for the far-right, where Marine Turchi recorded their sometimes surprising findings.    


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France heads to the polls on March 23rd and 30th for nationwide municipal elections in which the far-right Front National (FN) is widely forecast to see a strong rise in support. Amid a deep economic crisis, with unemployment at 10.2%, the mainstream political parties are in difficulty: while the socialist government’s popularity continues to plummet, the conservative opposition is reeling from internal divisions and a series of recent scandals.