The French local election results last weekend signalled a major rightward shift in the country.
Support plummeted for president Francois Hollande’s Labour-type Socialist Party (PS) in the departmental elections.
Disillusionment with his government’s austerity programme has seen votes surge for the Tory Popular Movement (UMP) party and their allies.
Exit polls suggest that the UMP, led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, has taken control of between 65 and 71 local councils—up from 41.
This means the UMP now have control of about two thirds of local councils. But the fascists also made worrying gains.
The fascist Front National (FN) has gained 62 seats—up from the two it won in the 2011 elections. It also took a quarter of the vote share.
Nazis Ligue du Sud, a split from the FN, also won four seats, taking the total of seats gained by fascists to 66.
The FN did not take control of any local councils as they had hoped. But they still got unprecedented results in the election for this level of government.
The result is another step forward for fascism in France. FN leader Marine Le Pen herself greeted the news.
She announced, “The goal is near, reaching power and applying our ideas to redress France.”
The elections were to choose 4,108 local councillors. In the first round of the elections the FN won more than 5 million votes, standing nearly 4,000 candidates in 93 percent of localities.
The departmental elections are usually difficult for outsider parties to make any inroads.
But the gains of the FN show just how successful it has been in putting down roots in the country. And it uses the veneer of respectability around elections to do this.
In the European elections last year it won 25 percent of the vote.
More than 10,000 people around France marched against racism the day before the first round of the elections.
Building on this base can help push back the gains of the fascists.