Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen has lead her National Front party to local election successReuters

Nigel Farage will surely have taken a keen interest in France's local elections, which saw the far-right National Front gain at least two town halls.

The core agenda and raison d'etre of Farage's party may differ from NF, which is also 30 years older. But there are clear similarities; both parties share an anti-federalist sentiment towards the European Union and regularly discuss the benefits of beefing up their respective nations' borders.

Both parties are fronted by charismatic leaders, who are no strangers to controversy. And both have capitalised on sentiment in their own countries to provide a fresh, dynamic force for disillusioned right-of-centre voters.

But just how similar are Ukip and the NF? Here IBTimes UK compares and contrasts two parties which could transform the political landscape of western Europe.


Marine Le Pen National Front
The French National Front has gained wider support since Marine Le Pen became leader in 2011Reuters

Marine Le Pen succeeded her father Jean Marie as leader and the face of NF in 2011. Like the cigar chomping, real-ale swilling Farage, Le Pen is an MEP and, just like the Ukip leader, she has deftly cultivated her image through media appearances over the years.

Both leaders have attracted controversy over their parties' policies and their outspoken comments. In 2010 Le Pen courted criticism when she compared Muslim prayer in French streets to an occupation. Farage, on the other hand, gained notoriety for his condemnation of EU president Herman van Rompuy.


Ukip and NF are Eurosceptic parties with a dislike for EU technocrats. Both parties would also like European nations to retain their own currencies and control their own borders.

Immigration has been mooted as one subject upon which the two parties agree: both staunchly promote the values of their nation and speak against open borders.

And both parties have enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent years. NF achieved 13.6% of the popular vote in 2012, up from 4.3% in 2007. Across the Channel, in 2012 Ukip averaged 13% of the vote in the seats it contested in local elections, five points higher than in 2011.

Nigel Farage slams Angela Merkel and hails Vladimir Putin in fresh outburst
Nigel Farage is heading into May's European Elections with a emboldened UKIP partyReuters


Ukip and NF differ when it comes to the economy. Le Pen's party has been a proponent of expanding the state to take control of sectors including energy, banking and education. NF backs up its nationalist credentials by standing by protectionism.

Ukip has positioned itself as a pro-business party, proposing a reduce in corporation tax. But as The Times newspaper pointed out, there could be up to a "£120 billion black hole" in its 2010 manifesto, which included unprecedented peace-time spending on defence.