National Front leader Le Pen gets a double election boost

Far-right party benefits from fatal shooting of armed robber and former PM’s comments.

The gun of a Lebanese jeweller and the explosive words of a former Prime Minister have given a double boost to the surging electoral prospects of the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

A Facebook page, set up in support of a jeweller accused of manslaughter after he shot dead an armed robber, broke French-language records for an online petition at the weekend.

By Sunday night, something approaching two million people had registered their support for Lebanese-born Stéphane Turk, 67, who shot and killed a 19-year-old alleged robber in Nice last Wednesday.

The online support for Mr Turk was launched by extreme nationalists close to Ms Le Pen’s National Front (NF) and supported by both her and her father, and predecessor, Jean-Marie, at the party’s “summer university” event in Marseille at the weekend.

Mr Turk’s popularity is reminiscent of the Norfolk farmer, Tony Martin, who became a hero to the right wing in Britain after he was jailed for killing a burglar in 1999.

The French jeweller claims he acted in self-defence. The public prosecutor says he shot the robber in the back as he was riding away on the pillion seat of a motorcycle.

At the same time, the traditional French right has been thrown into angry confusion by the comments of the former Prime Minister François Fillon, apparently inviting moderate electors to transfer their second-round of votes to the National Front in municipal elections next spring.


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