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FN tops French European ballot

Marine Le Pen calls for French Assembly to be dissolved after her party wins 25 of France’s 74 seats in EU Parliament

MARINE Le Pen’s Front National has won a nationwide election in France for the first time, picking up 26% of the French vote in the European elections.

The result means that the anti-euro, anti-immigration, anti-European Union party - whose campaign slogan was “Yes to France, no to Brussels” - has won a third of France’s 74 seats in the European Parliament, according to the French Interior Ministry.

The UMP finished second with 20% of the vote, while President François Hollande’s Socialist Party came third with just 13%.

The result prompted Ms Le Pen to describe the vote as support for “France for the French”. She also called on the government to resign and for President Hollande to dissolve the French parliament.

Speaking in Nanterre after the results were revealed, she said: “The sovereign people have spoken loud and clear. The sovereign people have said they want to take back the reins of their future.

“They don’t want to be ruled from overseas by laws they never chose or voted on. They have given us the formidable responsibility to act on the choices they have made tonight.”

The FN, which got 6% of the vote at the last European parliamentary elections in 2009 is now the largest French political party in European politics, with 25 seats.

Voter turnout was marginally higher than in the last European elections - 43.2% compared to 40.6% in 2009.

In comparison, turnout for the 2012 presidential elections was closer to 80%.

Despite the relatively low voter turnout in France - which was repeated across Europe - the result is a shock to the political system.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called on the EU to respond to the Front National’s victory, which he has described as a “political earthquake”.

“Europe needs to give hope again,” he said in a TV address late yesterday from Paris. “We need a Europe that is stronger, with more solidarity, more fairness.”

Socialist Party spokesman Olivier Faure last night told i-Tele: “We can try to relativise by saying that the largest party in this election was abstentionism, but you can’t hide the shock that for the first time the National Front has won a national vote.”

The results, which come after the FN made large gains in France’s local elections in March, are a further blow to France’s beleaguered President Hollande, whose popularity has plummeted to record lows.

Speaking on television this morning, Mr Valls said that the results showed the importance of pushing through spending and tax cuts.

He said: "We need to show courage because France must reform."

Eurosceptic parties made gains across the EU. UKIP topped the polls in Britain, while the far-left Syriza movement beat Greece’s two traditional ruling parties - and the fascist Golden Dawn is expected to have three MEPs after picking up 10% of the vote in Greece.

Meanwhile, the far-right Freedom Party was expected to take a fifth of the vote in Austria, and Hungary’s neo-fascist Jobbik movement took around 15%. But Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party in The Netherlands did less well than expected.

The European People’s Party (EPP), a bloc of European states’ centre-right parties was set to win 212 out of the 751 seats, with Social Democrats set to finish second.

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