Why are the French protesting about Le Pen when they voted for him

01:00 Mon 22nd Apr 2002 |

asks Pathfinder:
Well, 17.06% of those who voted chose the far right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first stage of the French presidential election. And Le Pen, who came second to President Jacques Chirac (19.7%) ousted the Socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin (16.5%).

Q. Why did Le Pen do so well
Experts put it down to a combination of factors, including: an historically low voting turn-out of 75%, voters turning away from mainstream politics to more extreme parties, and many left-wing votes being spread among lots of minor candidates.

His success was a surprise to many because Le Pen only managed to get seven per cent in the polls two months ago, and struggled to get the 500 signatures of elected officials he needed to qualify for the ballot paper.

Q. Why the protests
The 73-year-old Le Pen is anti-European, anti-American and anti-immigrant. He has called the Holocaust 'a detail of history', and says that immigration 'is the biggest problem facing France, Europe and probably the world' and that 'we risk being submerged'.

An estimated 10,000 people gathered in Paris after the election results came through chanting, 'We are all the children of immigrants.'

There were protests in many other French cities, too.

Q. What does Le Pen say
He is quoted as saying he was 'socially to the left, economically to the right', and a 'patriot' who would bring about a 'French renaissance'.

Q. What do his rivals say
Green candidate Noel Mam�re said Mr Le Pen's breakthrough had caused 'the most serious, political crisis in France since the Second World War'.

Q. Does Le Pen have a hope of winning the second round of the election
No. He has never been hugely popular. An opinion poll estimated that he would only get 22% of the vote at the second round. Thousands of left-wing voters will vote for Chirac - even though they mistrust him - in an effort to block the far right.

Q. Who were the other candidates

A. After Mr Jospin came the centre-right Francois Bayrou (6.5%), Trotskyist Arlette Lauguiller (6.3%); Green candidate Noel Mam�re (5.5%); left-wing nationalist Jean-Pierre Chev�nement (5.3%); Trotskyist Oliver Besancenot (4.5%); hunters' candidate Jean Saint-Josse (4%); and finally the Communist Party candidate Robert Hue (3.6%).

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By Sheena Miller

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