How Terror Attacks In Paris Helped Propel This Far-Right Party

Marine Le Pen and her National Front party made big gains in Sunday's regional election

Dec 06, 2015 at 9:02 AM ET

France’s far-right National Front party led by Marine Le Pen made big gains in the country’s regional elections on Sunday. A look at Le Pen’s Facebook page offers insight into the critical—and devastating—moments in which she, and by association her party, recently surged in popularity.

In the ongoing election, which is the first to be held since a string of deadly attacks hit the French capital last month, the anti-immigration, anti-EU National Front won roughly 28 percent of the nationwide vote and led in at least six of 13 regions, the AFP reported.

A win in the two-round vote to continue on December 13 would grant the party unprecedented influence, marking the first time it leads a French region. It could also help position Le Pen for a 2017 presidential election bid.

More A Brief History Of The National Front Party

Vocativ analyzed Le Pen’s growing popularity on Facebook over the last year, finding that support for her surged following two major terror attacks: The violence across Paris last month and the deadly attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January.

After gunmen opened fire at Charlie Hebdo’s offices on January 7, Le Pen’s Facebook page added more than 57,000 French fans over the course of a week. After last month’s violence erupted across the French capital, leaving 130 people dead, more than 43,000 French Facebook users liked her page over the next seven days.

In total, from November 30 last year to December 1 this year, 187,146 French Facebook users liked Le Pen’s official page.

The steady climb in fans runs parallel to an ongoing refugee crisis across Europe as migrants continue to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Greece in an effort to reach western Europe. Terrorism concerns have swelled as some fear the influx could have grave repercussions on security, and that ISIS fighters could be posing as migrants.