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    French far-right party soars in elections

    Al Jazeera English

    by Al Jazeera English

    France's far-right National Front party dealt a major blow to the ruling Socialists after several of its candidates took prime position in the first round of local elections.

    The main right-wing opposition UMP party also hailed a "big victory" on Sunday as initial polls showed it came out on top, amid severe disillusion with the government of President Francois Hollande against a backdrop of near-zero economic growth and high unemployment.

    The strong showing by the National Front will alarm Europe's liberal progressives, with the party long associated with racism and anti-Semitic statements.

    Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward reports from Paris.