French PM Manuel Valls warns electorate of civil war
The rise of the Front National could lead to civil war in France, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned, ahead of the second round of regional elections tomorrow that could bring real power to the far-Right party.
"There are two options for our country," Mr Valls said. "There is one option which is that of the far right which, basically, preaches division. This division may lead to civil war, and there is another vision which is that of the Republic and its values, which are for unity." He added: "Division and stigmatising people carry within them the seeds of civil war."
The Front National (FN) took a record share of votes in the first round of regional elections last weekend, confirming leader Marine Le Pen as a serious contender in the presidential race in 2017.
The results, with the FN winning more than 40pc of the vote in some regions, left the ruling Socialists and the mainstream conservative opposition in disarray.
Mr Valls told France Inter radio that the first round was a protest vote that needed to be heard. But he said that these voters were nevertheless "voting for a party that is anti-semitic, racist, which does not like the Republic and which is also cheating the French".
Ms Le Pen lashed out at Mr Valls in response to his attack on the party set up by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
"Let me remind the prime minister that the war being waged against France today is being waged by Islamist fundamentalists bottle-fed by a laxist, sectarian Socialist Party," she said.
The FN, buoyed by fears over the Islamist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last month, clinched pole position in six regions in last Sunday's election and took the largest slice of the national vote.
Polls say that Marine Le Pen is likely to make it into the second round of the presidential vote in 2017.