France goes to the polls just three weeks after deadly Islamic State militant attacks in Paris

Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen

France goes to the polls in high-stakes regional elections today, just three weeks after deadly Islamic State militant attacks in Paris that could bring strong gains for the far-right National Front.

Security will be high at polling stations in the capital where militants killed 130 people by shootings and suicide bombs on November 13th, the worst attacks since World War Two.

The fiery leader of France's far-right, Marine Le Pen, looks set to take a decisive step towards winning control of a region for the first time, while her niece is in a strong position to do the same elsewhere in the country

The National Front (FN) may lead in as many as six out of 13 regions after the first round.

Like other anti-immigration, anti-Europe parties across Europe, the FN is also likely to benefit from worries over the refugee crisis to win at least one region, and possibly more, in a conclusive run-off on December 13th, opinion polls show.

Even winning one regional council would be a major victory for the FN which has never had control of such constituencies.

“After the November 13th attacks we saw a clear increase in support for the National Front,” Ifop pollster analyst Jerome Fourquet said. “Everything is adding up for (it) to make an unprecedented score.”

The vote may redraw the political landscape, making French politics a three-way race as it gears up for 2017 presidential elections after decades of domination by the Socialists and conservatives.