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Sunday, March 30, 2014

FRENCH ELECTIONS - RIOTS AFTER RIGHT WING NATIONAL FRONT MAKES BIG WINS - Citizens' concern over encroachment of Islam, high crime, and the loss of French way of life under liberal governments

Riot police called in as violent clashes break out across France after far-right National Front win dramatic gains in local elections
  • Far-right National Front has beaten governing Socialists in key elections
  • National Front president Marie Le Pen says party moved to a 'new level'
  • Riot police have clashed with demonstrators outside regional town halls
  • Police in holiday towns of Frejus and Beziers report outbreaks of violence
  • French President Francois Hollande now expected to reshuffle government
 See March 31 UPDATE at the bottom of this page

Fights started outside French town halls tonight as they came under the control of the far-right National Front for the first time following dramatic gains in local elections.  Exit polls suggested that the anti-immigration and anti-Europe party had roundly beaten the governing Socialists in a number of key constituencies. 

'Demonstrators are trying to get at the Front representatives and starting fights,' said a police spokesman in Frejus, the picturesque Mediterranean town which is hugely popular with British tourists.


Frejus and nearby Beziers are now expected to have National Front (FN) mayors sworn in, along with around five other towns, following a nationwide drubbing for President Francois Hollande's Socialists.

Riot police were also out in force in other parts of the country as anti-fascist demonstrators threatened FN candidates with violence.

It meant further humiliation for Mr Hollande, whose disastrous tax and spend policies have led to economic stagnation, so opening the electoral door to the FN, which is regularly accused of being racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim.

David Rachline, who is expected to become the FN mayor of Frejus, is a former head of the party's youth movement, and still just 26.  Mr Rachline said: 'The political establishment has failed the people - it has ruined the town and filled its pockets.  'You can't talk about a protest vote any more - the Front's scores show that people are backing its ideas.'
The FN took 50.26 per cent of the vote in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont last Sunday, giving it an instant majority and meaning it already has its first mayor there. 
As polls closed in the two round municipal elections tonight the FN said it was on track to claim 1,200 municipal council seats.  'We have moved on to a new level,' said Ms Le Pen. 'There is now a third major political force in our country.'
The Socialists only consolation they have provided Paris with its first ever female mayor.  Anne Hidalgo is expected to beat her conservative rival, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet in the French capital.  Miss Hidalgo claimed 54.5 per cent of second round votes in the capital, comfortably beating her centre-Right rival, who won 45.5 per cent.
Read more


2011 Report - Muslims in France rejecting French values,
living in high-crime enclaves that are No-Go zones for police.
France's decrepit city suburbs are becoming 'separate Islamic societies' cut off from the state, according to a major new study that examines the spread of Islam in France
Muslim immigrants are increasingly rejecting French values and identity and instead are immersing themselves in Islam, according to the report, which also warns that Islamic Sharia law is rapidly displacing French civil law in many parts of suburban Paris.
The 2,200-page report, "Banlieue de la République" (Suburbs of the Republic), is the result of a one-year research effort into the four "i's" that comprise the heart of the debate over French national identity: Islam, immigration, identity and insecurity.
The authors of the report show that France, which has between five and six million Muslims (France has the largest Muslim population in European Union), is on the brink of a major social explosion because of the failure of Muslims to integrate into French society.
The report also shows how the problem is being exacerbated by radical Muslim leaders who are promoting the social marginalization of Muslim immigrants in order to create a parallel Muslim society in France that is ruled by Sharia law
The study says that Muslim religious institutions and practices are increasingly displacing those of the state and the French Republic, which has a strong secular tradition.
The report points out that the suburbs of Clichy and Montfermeil have been at the center of one of France's biggest urban renewal projects. Many physical barriers to integration have been removed, and efforts have been made to plug the area into public transport networks and improve public safety.
Nevertheless, low educational achievement is endemic among the Muslim population. This, in turn, is turning France into a "divided nation." Most Muslim youth are "not employable." More than 20% of the residents of Clichy and Montfermeil leave school without a diploma (about 150,000 people per year), according to the report. The unemployment rate for Muslim youth in the suburbs of Paris is around 43%.
These drop-outs enter a cycle of social exclusion negatively shapes their lives and those of their children. Many Muslim youth turn to "deviant behaviors across the range of incivilities in a parallel economy in which drug trafficking is the most prominent."

Read more


The Economist:
A CRUSHING defeat at French local elections has intensified pressure on François Hollande to reshuffle his government. At a second round of voting on March 30th, Mr Hollande’s Socialist Party lost over 150 towns, most of them to the opposition centre-right. This morning, the French president was holed up at the Elysée, the presidential palace, consulting close advisers over reshuffle plans, which could be announced as early as today.
The Socialist losses were devastating. Although, as expected, the party hung on to Paris, where Anne Hidalgo becomes the capital’s first female mayor, the rest of the country snubbed the ruling party.
Among the more dramatic losses were Toulouse, a city in the south-west that it had thought was safe, Roubaix  and Tourcoing, two industrial cities in the north with a deep left-wing heritage, and a string of other cities, including Amiens, Caen, Tours, Reims and Limoges, held by the left since 1912. Even some towns in the Paris region, which had been governed by Communist Party since the second world war, such as Villejuif, swung to the right.

The centre-right UMP was the primary beneficiary of this disillusion, and of a high abstention rate. Overall, the second-round result gave the combined mainstream right 46% of the vote, compared with 40% for the Socialists, Greens and other left-wing parties. This translates into 572 mayors for the right in towns of a population over 10,000, to 349 for the left, reversing the outcome in 2008. Jean-François Copé, the delighted head of the centre-right UMP party, called the result a “blue wave”.
The other second-round victor was Marine Le Pen’s populist National Front. To add to Hénin-Beaumont, a town that her party already won outright in a first-round vote on March 24rd, she picked up ten others. They include Fréjus and Béziers in the south, a string of smaller towns, and an arrondissement of Marseilles that represents fully 150,000 people. The only town that had looked winnable but which the National Front failed to grab in the end was Forbach, where her party’s number two, Florian Philippot, was standing.
Although the overall second-round result gave the National Front only 7% of the countrywide vote, this crop of town halls is a historic result for Ms Le Pen’s party. In 1995, when the front was on the rise under her father, Jean-Marie, it won just three towns. Ms Le Pen has also secured over 1,200 municipal-council seats, giving her both a local base in which to anchor the party and a training ground to prepare National Front officials for future electoral contests. The front could well come top in elections to the European Parliament in May.
Unlike in the first round, when the government seemed only belatedly to grasp the scale of its losses, Jean-Marc Ayrault, the sitting prime minister, said this time that it was a “moment of truth”, and a clear “defeat”. In 2001, the Socialist Party tried to brush off a similar defeat at local elections by focusing attention on Paris, which it had captured from the right. A year later, the Socialists went on to lose their place in the run-off of the presidential election to Mr Le Pen. This time, Mr Hollande looks likely to acknowledge the disaster in a televised address, and pick a fresh team.
A new government could be announced this week, even today. It is likely to have fewer ministers, and to include some veterans, such as Ségolène Royal, Mr Hollande’s former partner and a former defeated Socialist presidential candidate. The greatest difficulty will be finding the right prime minister. Neither of the two most obvious candidates to replace Mr Ayrault would be risk-free for Mr Hollande. Manuel Valls, the interior minister, a liberal, is distrusted by the party’s left wing and the Greens, and has presidential ambitions of his own. Laurent Fabius, who held the job 30 years ago, is an old foe of Mr Hollande’s so cohabitation between them could be stormy.
This is why speculation continues to return to the possibility that Mr Ayrault could keep the job, if some big names were brought in elsewhere. Pierre Moscovici, the finance minister, looks likely to be replaced. Among names circulating in Paris are that of Emmanuel Macron, Mr Hollande’s economic adviser. The president is keeping his cards close to his chest—he is more secretive than even François Mitterrand, the previous Socialist president, says one former Mitterrand adviser. A surprise nomination cannot be ruled out.
The new government will not only face fresh electoral difficulty at European polls in May. Before that, in mid-April, France must submit its spending plans to the European Commission, and it has promised to spell out €50 billion ($69 billion) of public-spending savings in 2015-2017, including an extra €10 billion or so in a payroll-tax cut to companies as part of a job-creating “responsibility pact”. Whatever Mr Hollande’s choice of government, its greatest challenge will be to explain to the left wing why its response to electoral defeat will be tax cuts for business and austerity.

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