By Andre Walker
Whilst she is not on the ballots, Marine Le Pen is the focus
of elections for more than 2,000 councils across France. Opinion polls
rate Le Pen’s National Front Party the favorite versus the ruling
Socialists and conservatives ahead of today’s vote.
The vote is will be the first chance voters will have t,had o respond
to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January, when twelve staff were shot
by Muslim gunmen. The attack led to significant soul searching, in
France as it was expressingly undertaken to curtain free speech.
A strong showing for Le Pen could prove crucial in building
her grass-roots base if, as expected, she runs for president in
2017. French local government holds significant power and so having a
strong base in it is seen as vital.
The National Front’s opposition to immigration, radical Islam, the
European Union and the euro has helped transform the party from a pariah
under Le Pen’s father.
France’s council elections are in two rounds, so victory Sunday will
determine which candidates can contest a second vote March
29. Candidates appear on ballots in pairs — one male, one female — to
ensure that 50 percent of council members are women.
Socialist President Francois Hollande is expected to sink in the
polls, he is now one of the least popular French leaders ever. Unless he
can turn around his party’s fortunes soon they will lose the