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French legislative elections 2012

Front National's Marine Le Pen launches parliamentary election bid

Reuters/Benoit Tessier
4 min

Former far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Monday launched her bid to win election to France’s National Assembly next month from the northern French town of Hénin-Beaumont. She played down a challenge from hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who at the weekend announced that he will oppose her there.

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Marine Le Pen declared that her principal adversary will be Socailist candidate Philippe Kermel, “the representative of a feudal, anachronistic, corrupt, clientelist system that we are fighting without let-up … and that we are in the process of bringing down”.

The Socialist Party has lost ground in the town, a former industrial centre with 15 per cent unemployment, partly thanks to a corruption inquiry into former mayor Gérard Dalongeville and several other scandals in the surrounding area.

The Front National has won support, bringing Marine Le Pen to stand for the local council in 2007 and now for parliament.

At the weekend, Socialist Party chief Martine Aubry lashed Mélenchon for standing against Kermel, who is mayor of nearby Carvin.

Hénin-Beaumont “is already suffering enough from unemployment, poverty and difficulties” and “does not need a media-hyped match”, she said.

On Monday Le Pen denounced a “political and media circus”, pointing out that Mélenchon has never stood as a candidate in the area.

She won 31.42 per cent in the town in the first round of the presidential election, compared to 14.48 per cent for Mélenchon who won fourth place there as he did at national level.

The Left Front leader concentrated his fire on the Front National during the presidential campaign, leading Le Pen to refuse to appear on television with him because she claimed he had insulted her too much.

Another member of the Le Pen family launched her bid to become an MP on Friday, backed up Marine Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie.

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a 22-year-old student who is Marine Le Pen’s niece, is standing in the southern Vaucluse department, which is currently represented by four members of outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP.

Marine Le Pen won 31.50 per cent in the constituency in the presidential election, compmared to 27.65 per cent for Sarkozy and 22.34 per cent for François Hollande.

She is not without political experience, she pointed out on Friday. She has stood for the local council in the Paris suburb Saint Cloud, and for the regional council in the Yvelines, just outside the capital.

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