Far Right Does Amazingly Well in French Election
Marine Le Pen nabbed close to 20% of the vote
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2012 8:10 AM CDT
French far-right leader and National Front Party candidate for the presidential elections Marine Le Pen delivers a speech after the first round of presidential elections, Paris, yesterday.   (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

(Newser) – Marine Le Pen may not have made it into the runoff round of France's presidential election, but she was arguably the biggest winner of the night, bringing in between 18% and 20% of the vote. It was the best-ever showing for the far-right National Front, even surpassing her father's 17% in 2002, reports the Guardian. Le Pen promised to pull France out of the euro and the passport-free Schengen zone, and reduce immigration to just 10,000 people per year. "This first round is the start of a vast gathering of right-wing patriots," she told cheering supporters, shortly before bursting into "La Marseillaise."

A 43-year-old lawyer, Le Pen is a relative newcomer on the French political scene. But with a strong third-place showing—Francois Hollande took about 28.5% of the vote, Nicolas Sarkozy around 26%—Le Pen could be a key figure in the runoff round of the elections in two weeks. A previous poll found that 48% of those that backed Le Pen would shift their vote to Sarkozy, and 24% would cast a ballot for Hollande.