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French rally against National Front

BBC News BBC News 29/05/2014 BBC News

Young protesters in Paris, France (29 May 2014)

Young protesters in Paris, France (29 May 2014)
© AP

Thousands of students have demonstrated in France against the far-right National Front (FN) party, following its success in the European elections.

About 4,000 students rallied in Paris, while smaller marches took place in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and outside the European parliament in Strasbourg.

The National Front came first in last week's elections, winning 25% of the French vote and 24 MEP seats.

The party is opposed to mass immigration, free trade and the euro.

In Paris, students shouted anti-right wing slogans and waved banners reading "No to the National Front".

One protester, Kevin Motillon, told AP news agency that "Behind [FN's] anti-EU rhetoric there is also a xenophobic speech, a speech of hate and of rejecting others, and that seems completely unlikely in today's world."

However, correspondents say the turnout is small compared with previous protests against the FN.

Following her party's victory, leader Marine Le Pen said voters had demanded "only one type of politics - a politics of the French, for the French and with the French".

She added that her party would put pressure on French President Francois Hollande and fight "crazy measures like votes for immigrants".

Ms Le Pen is credited with detoxifying the image of the FN, which was previously seen as the pariah of French politics.

The party's last, but lesser, breakthrough was in 2002, when Marine Le Pen's father Jean-Marie Le Pen came second in the presidential election, the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.

That event spawned mass demonstrations against the FN, with half a million people on the streets of Paris, our correspondent adds.

National Front

1972: founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen

1983: First big election success in local poll

1986: Enters parliament

1980s: Gains votes from both nationalist right and hard left

2002: Le Pen comes shock second in presidential poll, beating Socialist candidate

2011: Marine Le Pen succeeds her father at head of the party

Key policies: Opposed to mass immigration and free trade; seeks exit from euro

File photo: Marine Le Pen: Marine Le Pen's party swept to victory in the European elections and won 24 MEP seats

Marine Le Pen's party swept to victory in the European elections and won 24 MEP seats
© Reuters

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