French voters head to the polls to elect thousands of local councillors in a test of the far-right National Front's growing hold on grassroots politics. Vanessa Johnston reports.
Marine Le Pen heads into the ballot box in her hometown of Henin-Beaumont. in France's second round of local elections. The goal for her far-right National Front party is clear: SOUNDBITE (French): MARINE LE PEN, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL FRONT PARTY AND MEMBER OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SAYING: "To increase substantially the number of our elected candidates -- we have one at the moment -- and to enter into the assemblies of the departmental councils in order to defend the interests of the French." With its anti-immigrant, anti-euro platform... Le Pen hopes to bring National Front into the mainstream ahead of the 2017 presidential election. The second round is also a key test for ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy. Opinion polls see his conservative UMP and its allies winning the election, with nearly twice as many seats as President Francois Hollande's Socialists.