“A brilliant victory” is how the National Front is describing a local election success in the south of France.
Laurent Lopez, representing the anti-EU, nationalist party which rejects the tag “extreme right”, took 53.9 percent of the vote to see off the combined efforts of mainstream left and right and take the town of Brignoles and surrounding area.
The centre-right UMP candidate Catherine Delzers finished nearly eight percentage points behind, on 46.1 percent, despite calls to back her from the left which was defeated in the first round.
The party seems unsure how to stop the National Front’s rise.
For the left this is the eighth straight first-round defeat since the socialist President Hollande’s election last year.
The far right has traditionally performed well in this part of southern France.
This time the National Front was careful to focus on issues like unemployment and local business rather than immigration.
But its opponents believe such matters still weighed on voters’ minds.
Brignoles has seen an increase in residents of North African origin, many of whom are said to be less integrated than before.