(Reuters) – German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Tuesday branded the French National Front party fascist and extremist after the anti-immigrant Eurosceptics shocked Europe by coming first in France’s European Parliament elections.
The victory of Marine Le Pen’s FN was part of wider gains in the European vote by anti-EU parties which left the 28-member European Union licking its wounds. Anti-establishment parties from the left also made inroads.
In France, the FN not only topped a national vote for the first time but pushed ruling Socialists there into a lowly third place, prompting Prime Minister Manuel Valls to speak of a political “earthquake.”
“Not only for our French colleagues, we have to (ask ourselves) what mistakes we made if a quarter of the (French) electorate voted for … not a right-wing party but for a fascist, extremist party,” Schäuble, speaking in English, told a conference in Berlin.
Le Pen has sought to rid the FN of its extremist reputation since she took the reins from her father in 2011. She campaigned on a platform of tighter borders, hostility to the euro currency and rejection of a planned EU-U.S. free trade deal. The FN calls itself a “patriotic” party and rejects the far-right label.