At the Salle Equinox in Paris last night, supporters and activists of Marine Le Pen danced the night away to 1980s pop music. On the playlist was, reportedly, Lionel Ritchie’s hit ‘All Night Long’. All night Front National activists might well have continued. With around 18% of the vote (18.05% Le Point/17.9% Le Figaro), Mme Le Pen has produced the shock result of the first-round in the French presidential elections, surpassing even her father’s record from 2002 in which he gained some 16.86% of the vote.
At the start of this tragic week for the French nation, when four people were gunned down outside a Jewish school complex in Toulouse, the hardening of rhetoric on the French right in this election year seemed completely at odds with public sentiment. As news of the murders in the south-west filtered across France, candidates on the right from the present incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy to the far right challenger Marine Le Pen were quick to condemn right-wing extremism. That was, of course, when the killer was thought to be an ex-soldier with neo-Nazi sympathies who had been expelled from the army for his political views.