“This small city in northern France has few immigrants and little crime. But in the last local elections here, the candidate of the far-right National Front eliminated the standard-bearer of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party in the first round of voting and then won 30.2 percent of the vote in the runoff, losing to a Socialist.
With the presidential election less than three months away, Mr. Sarkozy’s party fears the same results on a national scale. The president is facing strong competition on the right from the National Front and its leader, Marine Le Pen, and his party is worried that she may eliminate the sitting president in the first round of voting on April 22.
What is most striking is how well she and the party are doing not only in the south of France, where immigration and radical Islam are traditional issues, but here in the post-industrial north, where the issues are more economic: unemployment, factory closings, competition from inside the enlarged European Union, from Poland and Slovakia, and from outside, particularly China.”
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