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As French Election Nears, Le Pen Targets Voters Her Party Once Repelled

“I’ve said several times I would do it, but I’ve never had the courage,” Christian Pignol, a vendor of plants and vegetables at the Bandol market, said about voting for the National Front. “This time may be the good one.”

“It’s the fear of the unknown,” he continued, as several fellow vendors nodded. “People would like to try it, but they are afraid. But maybe it’s the solution. We’ve tried everything for 30, 40 years. We’d like to try it, but we’re also afraid.”

French politics are particularly volatile this election season. Traditional power centers — the governing Socialists and the center-right Republicans — are in turmoil. Ms. Le Pen’s chief rival, Emmanuel Macron, is a youthful and untested politician running at the head of a new party.

Those uncertainties — and a nagging sense that mainstream parties have failed to offer solutions to France’s economic anemia — have left the National Front better positioned than at any time in its 45-year history.

But if it is to win nationally, the party must do much better than even the 49 percent support it won in this conservative Var department, home to three National Front mayors, in elections in 2015. More critically, it must turn once-hostile areas of the country in Ms. Le Pen’s favor and attract new kinds of voters — professionals and the upper and middle classes. Political analysts are skeptical.

Source: NYT > World

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