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France's far-right National Front leads in regional elections

Supporters react after the announcement of French National Front political party leader and candidate Marine Le Pen results during the first round of the regional elections at a polling station in Henin-Beaumont, France, December 6, 2015. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

PARIS (Reuters) - Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front party led in the first round of French local elections, TV exit polls showed on Sunday, with Le Pen and her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen both gaining more than 40 percent in the north and southeast of the country.

If confirmed, the result would be a boost for Le Pen, who had hoped her anti-immigrant, anti-euro party would emerge top in the first round, boosting her hopes for 2017 presidential elections.

There will be a run-off on Dec.13.

The National Front secured 30.6 percent of the vote nationally, an exit poll by Ifop-Fiducial poll showed, ahead of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative Les Republicains party and their allies, who secured 27 percent.

As expected, President Francois Hollande’s ruling Socialists came third polling 22.7 percent.

Reporting By Ingrid Melander and John Irish