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The rise of intolerance in French politics, mapped

Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

The right emerged victorious in Sunday’s local French elections, with former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right party UMP sweeping the vote with 32.5%, and the far-right National Front (FN) coming in second with 26%. The ruling Socialist Party came in third with 22% of the vote.

The anti-immigrant FN, led by Marine Le Pen, had been expected to do better, but it was its best ever result in local elections. And it could still gain in run-off elections on March 29. Thanks to the left-leaning daily newspaper Liberation, voters will be able to check just how intolerant their local FN candidate is.

In the run-up to the election, Liberation tracked statements by some of the party’s candidates, either posted on social media, or made in public appearances. They divided the candidates by color-coding their statements: “islamophobia,” “homophobia,” “anti-semitism,” “racism,” and the dubious honor of “combo.”  Voters could click on a candidate in their area to reveal their views. Liberation updated the map after the election with the results and whether a given candidate would go into the second round.

Francois Helie, a candidate in the canton of Dourdan posted on his Facebook page a fake ad of trash bags with the slogan “a disposable niqab, retains odor for 24 hours, certified!” He was knocked out in the first round.

Another candidate, Jacques Coutela of the Tonnerrois canton was at one point suspended from the party, saying that he admired Anders Breivik, the Norwegian man who killed 77 people in 2011, as the “first defender of the West.” He made it to the next round of voting.

Such statements landed the party in hot water, but LePen defended the authors saying they are “not professional politicians.”

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