Until his daughter, Marine, captured 19 percent of the vote in France’s first round of presidential elections Sunday, Jean Marie Le Pen was the country’s most politically successful right-wing crazy. In a way he saw this coming, promoting his daughter, as The Guardian recalls, as a “big healthy blonde girl … an ideal physical specimen.”

(Marine’s father won 16 percent in 2002.)

Socialist Francois Hollande was the top vote-getter in Sunday’s election, beating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy by roughly 28 to 26 percent. The next round will be held May 6, and that’s where it gets interesting. Although the Communist candidate, who won about 12 percent, rolled his eyes and endorsed Hollande, Le Pen refuses to recognize Sarkozy. As the leader of the National Front, Le Pen is one of those European xenophobes who campaigns mostly against immigrants. Perhaps she objects to Sarkozy’s Hungarian-Greek-Jewish ancestry. Or maybe it’s that Italian wife. In any event, she is refusing to yield to the center-right, as the BBC quotes:

After the vote, Ms Le Pen told jubilant supporters that the FN’s result was “only the start” and that the party was now “the only opposition” to the left.

Polls now suggest Hollande will win, but, as The Guardian observes, “French opinion polls have a record of underestimating support for the far right.” It’s not that Le Pen will win. It’s that with 80 percent turnout, one in five voters chose the extremist. — PZS


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