Beware of far-right party, voters warned

National Front leader Marine Le Pen, the French far-right party's candidate in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region, campaigning ahead of this weekend's regional election.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen, the French far-right party's candidate in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region, campaigning ahead of this weekend's regional election.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • France's boss of bosses yesterday warned voters against backing the far-right in this weekend's regional polls in a rare move which he said was justified because the National Front's (FN's) economic agenda was not "responsible".

Mr Pierre Gattaz, head of France's employers' group Medef, made his comments with polls showing a rise in the FN's ratings against a background of a migrant crisis in Europe and the attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that killed 130 people in Paris.

The anti-Europe, anti-euro FN's economic agenda is "exactly the opposite of what we need to kickstart economic growth in this country", Mr Gattaz told Le Parisien daily in an interview.

While Medef regularly lobbies the government on its economic policies, it usually stays clear of intervening in an election or telling voters who to back.

On Monday, the northern region's main daily La Voix du Nord also took the unusual step of urging readers not to vote for the FN, showing growing concern at polls which see FN victories as increasingly likely in two or three of 13 mainland regions.

The FN, which has seen its popularity rise since 2011 as Ms Marine Le Pen took over from her father and worked to soften its image, won 11 municipalities in 2014 but currently rules no regional council.

Surveys show her topping the vote in the first round on Sunday in Nord-Pas-de-Calais in the north, and her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen doing the same in south-east France. While the second round is harder to predict, surveys see both winning that round on Dec 13.

The usually low-key election for regional administrations is this time a key test for France's main parties as they gear up for the 2017 presidential vote.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2015, with the headline 'Beware of far-right party, voters warned'. Print Edition | Subscribe