Sunday, December 6, 2015 10:26 am
France goes to the polls in high-stakes regional elections on Sunday, just three weeks after deadly Islamic State militant attacks in Paris that could bring strong gains for the far-right National Front.
Security will be beefed up at polling stations in the capital where militants killed 130 people by shootings and suicide bombs on Nov. 13, the worst attacks since World War Two.
The National Front (FN) may lead in as many as six out of 13 regions after the first round on Sunday.
Like other anti-immigration, anti-Europe parties across Europe, the FN is also likely to benefit from worries over the refugee crisis to win at least one region, and possibly more, in a conclusive run-off on Dec.13, opinion polls show.
Even winning one regional council would be a major victory for the FN which has never had control of such constituencies.
“After the Nov. 13 attacks we saw a clear increase in support for the National Front,” Ifop pollster analyst Jerome Fourquet said. “Everything is adding up for (it) to make an unprecedented score.”
The vote may redraw the political landscape, making French politics a three-way race as it gears up for 2017 presidential elections after decades of domination by the Socialists and conservatives.
The Socialists, who now rule France and control most regions, are set to lose most councils to either ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives or the FN, despite a boost in President Francois Hollande’s popularity ratings from his handling of the attacks