Supporters of the French National Front party gave Marine Le Pen a huge welcome as she addressed them after polling a record 19% – even higher than her father’s 16% in 2002.
She told her followers: “With honour, courage and dignity the French have defied all expectations and invited themselves to the table of the elite tonight. This first round is not an end in itself but the beginning of a huge coming together of patriots both left and right who love France. The battle for France has only just begun. Dear friends, dear French friends, nothing will ever be the same again. Together we have blown apart the monopoly of the two parties of the banks, of finance, of multinationals, of giving up and abandoning. We have carried the national ideal higher than ever before. We are now the only true opposition to a left that is ultra liberal, and lax.”
Commentators have been quick to point out that although around 60% of her supporters are expected to vote for Sarkozy, the rest could well abstain or even vote for Hollande.