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Le Pen at the gates 

December 9th, 2015

As the National Front advances in the first round of the French municipal elections, pundits across the political spectrum try to assess whether the appeal of radical parties in Europe is a transient phenomenon, or if it is likely to stay.

In Népszava, Tibor Várkonyi thinks that moderate parties are strong enough to jointly defeat the “pro-fascist” National Front in the second round of the municipal elections. The left-wing columnist acknowledges that the political centre is hollowing out in France, but he is confident that the radicalization of European voters is only a temporary phenomenon.

There are not as many radical voters in the bastion of European democracy as the elections suggest,” Népszabadság comments in a front page editorial. The leading left-wing daily thinks that voters disappointed with centrist parties voted for Le Pen in the hope that the National Front can defeat so-called Islamist terrorism. Népszabadság warns that instead, the radical National Front would only eliminate the very way of life French voters want to defend from extremist challengers.

Magyar Nemzet’s István Pataky cautions against attributing the National Front’s success to heightened anxiety over terrorism. While mainstream moderate parties could not offer meaningful answers other than painful restrictions to the recent economic challenges, the National Front deftly coupled welfare promises with nationalist rhetoric, the conservative columnist notes. Also, under Marine Le Pen, the National Front has abandoned its anti-Semitic image, which has also helped her party connect to moderate and young voters, Pataky adds.

The French are fed up with terrorist attacks, fear, immigration, failed multiculturalism, ghettos in Marseilles and Paris, unemployment, import of foreign products, decline of French culture, political paralysis, Angela Merkel, the European Union – and everything,” Zoltán Kottász interprets the results of the French municipal elections in Magyar Idők. As voters who demand change become disillusioned and alienated from the mainstream, radical parties with simplistic answers and new faces are becoming popular throughout Europe, the pro-government pundit writes. In an aside, Kottász wonders how Europe would react if an extremist party akin to the National Front won an election in Hungary.

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