News Analysis: Battle of the Extremes

As the legislative elections approach, the Union pour Un Movement Populaire (UMP) finds itself without a leader to insure the sustainability of the center-right party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy. While the executives of the UMP are engaged in a battle for the top positions, particularly the position of Secretary-General, Marine Le Pen of the Front National (FN) is taking advantage of the situation in an attempt to make of the legislative elections the springboard of the FN.

With the UMP preoccupied and the PS focused on its new responsibilities, in many ways it is necessary to examine the growing influence of the extremes: Only Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Front de Gauche continues to face the rise of the extremist right.

The irony of the situation is intriguing. An extreme has become necessary to face another extreme. The French, in many ways, are at risk of giving legitimacy to policies that resemble nationalist ideas of the past, a past that many French citizens are afraid of re-visiting. However, the surprising score of 17,9 % of Marine Le Pen in the last presidential elections makes the Front National the third French political party, making the task of reigning in the extreme right all the more complicated for the Front de Gauche.

Hénin-Beaumont is the perfect example of this fight between these two ends of the political spectrum.  Marine Le Pen says she is sure that she can win the votes to win the first round of votes against former Presidential candidate and main competitor, Mélenchon. However, he is, according to recent polls, expected to win overall.

The last time members of the Front National were able to sit in the National Assembly was 25 years ago under the leadership of Jean-Marine Le Pen, Father and mentor of Marine Le Pen. He won 9.8% of the vote to gain the seat in the Assembly.

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