National Front withers in French regional elections

Despite encouraging returns in the first round of elections and appearing poised to claim leadership of six regional governments in Metropolitan France only one week ago, France’s National Front party (FN) was handed a crushing loss in round two of regional elections on Sunday.

Notwithstanding slight leads over Nicholas Sarkozy’s Les Républicains and President Francois Hollande’s Socialist party into Sunday’s second round, FN achieved third place.

Running for the regional presidency in Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, FN leader, Marine Le Pen, was defeated by Les Républicain candidate Xavier Bertrand with a plurality of 15 percent (57.77%-42.23%).

Accepting defeat, one which could check her ambitions for the 2017 presidential elections, a defiant Marine Le Pen thanked six-million “patriotic” voters and stated:

In its northern and southern bastions we’ve eradicated the evil-doing Socialist Party.  Nothing can stop us now.  By tripling our number of councillors, we will be the main opposition force in most of the regions of France.”

Slamming the oppositions’ election tactics, Marine Le Pen added:

(Her party had been) “disenfranchised in the most indecent of ways by a campaign of lies and disinformation, a defamation decided in gilded palaces and those who voted for her party managed to resist intimidation infantilization and manipulations.”

In the southern Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Le Pen’s niece, Marion Le Pen, suffered a ten-point loss to Les Républicain Christian Estrosi.

Equally as feisty in the loss, Marion Le Pen remarked:  “Some victories shame the winners.”

Both Le Pens were regarded as the FN party’s best chance to earn a regional presidency.

Former President Nicholas Sarkozy’s Les Républicains claimed seven of France’s regions; President Francois Hollande’s Socialists carried five.  In sum, in the six regions FN held prior leads, Les Républicains and the Socialists carried three each.


 
Analysis

Neither Le Pen is going to disappear.

The FN party netted 6.8 million votes in round two of the elections, relying on a higher turnout from the previous week and Marine Le Pen earned 6.2 million votes in the 2012 presidential elections, capitalizing on a significantly higher turnout among voters.

Further evidence FN is a permanent presence on the political scene in France, the party now has a consequential existence in every regional council despite not winning a council leadership, a rise from having no presence in half of the regions forgoing the Sunday elections.

Now, in four regions, it rivals Les Républicains as the main opposition and leads the Socialists by a wide margin.

Despite Sunday’s loss, FN is growing.

 

[BBC] [The Guardian] [Photo courtesy BBC]