Early results in France's local elections show the far-right Front National, headed by Marine Le Pen, winning what some in the press are calling "historic" gains in the mayorships of French towns. Its biggest victories were in Avignon and Béziers, larger cities in southern France, and the FN nearly took an absolute majority in the northern town of Hénin-Beaumont. Le Pen said the election was exceptional her party, which has made a strenuous effort to shed its associations with fascism, collaborationism, and anti-Semitism and appear a moderate alternative to France's major parties. "The Front National has arrived as a major independent force," Le Pen said Sunday.
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