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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
Le Pen's voters
National Front supporters celebrate Le Pen's success
Le Pen has built up a core of support over the decades

Almost 4.8 million people cast their votes for Jean-Marie Le Pen on Sunday.

Jean-Marie Le Pen
Le Pen did particularly well in south-eastern France

But who are the voters who turned Mr Le Pen from an also-ran, stirring up discontent beyond the pale of civilised politics, into a proud finalist?

Mr Le Pen's supporters tend to be older and poorer than average.

They worry about crime and feel that the political establishment is not listening to them.

Geographically, Mr Le Pen did particularly well in parts of southern and eastern France where immigration and unemployment are high.

The leader of the National Front (FN) achieved his best scores in Alsace and Provence, taking more than 23% of the vote in both regions, well ahead of other candidates.

But Mr Le Pen was also able to mobilise supporters beyond these traditional strongholds: he came first in seven other regions out of France's 22, mostly in central-eastern and northern areas.

Click here for a map of the election results by region

Even diehard supporters did not expect Mr Le Pen to do so well.

FN activists in Marseilles were not able to celebrate in style, having simply forgotten to put the champagne in the fridge!

Overall, Sunday's vote confirms that the FN is entrenched in urban parts of the country where people feel threatened by street violence and economic uncertainty.

The main exception to this pattern is the Paris area, where Mr Le Pen came third.

France is a highly centralised country: voters living near the capital may not feel as ignored by mainstream politicians as others, and may be more likely to vote for them.

Mr Le Pen did least well in the less urbanised west and centre of the country.


The typical FN supporter is a male: Mr Le Pen scored about 20% of men's votes, and only 14% of women's.

Demonstrations against Le Pen in Lyon
Le Pen's success triggered protests around France

He also tends to be older than average. According to a poll published by Liberation newspaper, 22% of voters aged 50-64 voted for Mr Le Pen.

FN supporters also tend to be less skilled and poorer.

Almost a quarter of those earning less than 1,500 euros ($1,360) a month cast their votes for Mr Le Pen.

The far-right candidate did extremely well among the unemployed - an amazing 38% of them voted for him.

Mr Le Pen, in short, captured the votes of those who feel economically insecure and marginalised.

With French unemployment stuck around 9% of the workforce, the FN leader has a large pool of potential voters to tap into.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, however, was able to capitalise most on insecurity in the most basic sense: fear of violence.

The campaign was dominated by law and order concerns, and three-quarters of those who voted for Mr Le Pen told pollsters that the rise in street crime was their main worry.

Only 30% stressed immigration, Mr Le Pen's original stock-in-trade issue.

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See also:

23 Apr 02 | Europe
22 Apr 02 | Europe
22 Apr 02 | Africa
22 Apr 02 | UK Politics
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