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    Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, attends a campaign rally in Paris, France, April 17, 2017.

    Austrian Right-Wing Party Lauds Le Pen Election Result

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    France’s National Front (FN) party has achieved "impressive" results in the first round of French presidential election, with the party set to continue gaining popularity regardless of the final outcome, Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) member and former presidential candidate Norbert Hofer told Sputnik on Monday.

    PARIS (Sputnik) — Independent Emmanuel Macron and right-wing FN leader Marine Le Pen won the first round of Sunday's French presidential election, gathering the support of 23.86 percent and 21.43 percent of voters respectively, according to preliminary figures of the French Interior Ministry with nearly all votes counted. This was the best result in the history of the far-right FN. The two candidates will clash for the second time in the run-off on May 7.

    "It is quite impressive, what Marine Le Pen did yesterday. It was the best result in a history of the National Front and, I think, that this party will be getting stronger and stronger, not because it is a right-wing party, but because it is important to have traditions and values aimed at protecting your own country," Hofer said.

    The Austrian politician wished Marine Le Pen a victory stressing that it would not be an easy run-off as the political establishment and the mainstream media would try to destroy Le Pen's image in order to prevent her victory.

    "For the elections in two weeks, it won't be too easy. I saw it in Australia, when I was running for the presidency, because everyone, including all other parties, the media will fight against Le Pen. It won't be easy but I hope that she can achieve a good results," Hofer said.

    The politician also expressed hope that Europe would witness major gains for right-wing and nationalist parties during a series of elections scheduled in a number of EU member states in 2017 and 2018.

    "I hope that parties, which want to see a better Europe, will be getting stronger. What we want is not to destroy the European Union, this would be wrong, but we would like to have more subsidiarity. We want to have Europe of people, not Europe of parties," he stressed.

    Austria, as well as Italy, both of which will face parliamentary elections in 2018, have already experienced an unprecedented rise of anti-establishment, populist and right-wing forces of their own.

    FPO's Hofer gained 46.2 percent of votes in Austria’s December election rerun, a result that was far from negligible for a party hailing from outside the political establishment. The election winner, independent Candidate Alexander Van der Bellen received 53.8 percent of the votes.

    Italy’s populist Five Star Movement is currently holding 91 of 630 seats in the country’s lower parliament chamber and 35 out of 315 seats in the Senate.

    Related:

    Macron, Le Pen Advance to 2nd Round of French Presidential Vote
    French Presidential Hopeful Le Pen Wins Some 5% of Votes in Paris
    Le Pen Tailing Macron in French Presidential Election
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    Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), Norbert Hofer, Marine Le Pen, Austria, France
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