Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right Front National party, secured 19 percent of the vote in the first round of the French presidential elections, surpassing her father's shock result in 2002.
Le Pen's surprisingly high count exceeded expectations . Her third place victory leaves her in an influential position as the two leading contenders, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, move forward as the only second round candidates.
Euro News reported Le Pen addressed her jubilant followers, saying "we have blown apart the monopoly of the two parties of the banks, of finance, of multinationals, of giving up and abandoning. We have carried the national ideal higher than ever before. We are now the only true opposition to a left that is ultra liberal, and lax.”
Sarkozy is likely to be the beneficiary of Le Pen's supporters votes in the next round. According to the Guardian a poll suggests 48 percent of her supporters will transfer their vote to the current president, with only 24 percent transferring their vote to Hollande. Euro News puts the figure for Sarkozy higher at 60 percent of Le Pen's voters.
Le Pen has worked to re-brand the Front National Party as the patriotic right, rather than far-right extremist, and banned the neo-Nazi skinhead element.