Europe

French students in anti-National Front rallies

Demonstrators against French far-right National Front party chant slogans during a march from Bastille plaza to Republique Plaza, in Paris, 29 May 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Many demonstrators held signs that read: "Dear Europe, we are sorry"

Thousands of students have demonstrated in France against the far-right National Front (FN) party, following its success in the European elections.

About 4,000 students rallied in Paris, while smaller marches took place in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and outside the European parliament in Strasbourg.

The National Front came first in last week's elections, winning 25% of the French vote and 24 MEP seats.

The party is opposed to mass immigration, free trade and the euro.

In Paris, students shouted anti-right wing slogans and waved banners reading "No to the National Front".

One protester, Kevin Motillon, told AP news agency that "Behind [FN's] anti-EU rhetoric there is also a xenophobic speech, a speech of hate and of rejecting others, and that seems completely unlikely in today's world."

However, correspondents say the turnout is small compared with previous protests against the FN.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands demonstrated on Thursday, although numbers were small compared to previous protests against the FN
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Marine Le Pen's party swept to victory in the European elections and won 24 MEP seats

Following her party's victory, leader Marine Le Pen said voters had demanded "only one type of politics - a politics of the French, for the French and with the French".

She added that her party would put pressure on French President Francois Hollande and fight "crazy measures like votes for immigrants".

Ms Le Pen is credited with detoxifying the image of the FN, which was previously seen as the pariah of French politics.

The party's last, but lesser, breakthrough was in 2002, when Marine Le Pen's father Jean-Marie Le Pen came second in the presidential election, the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.

That event spawned mass demonstrations against the FN, with half a million people on the streets of Paris, our correspondent adds.

National Front

  • 1972: founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen
  • 1983: First big election success in local poll
  • 1986: Enters parliament
  • 1980s: Gains votes from both nationalist right and hard left
  • 2002: Le Pen comes shock second in presidential poll, beating Socialist candidate
  • 2011: Marine Le Pen succeeds her father at head of the party
  • Key policies: Opposed to mass immigration and free trade; seeks exit from euro

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