Monday, December 14, 2015 11:17 am
France’s far-right National Front (FN) failed to win a single region in elections Sunday despite record results, as voters flocked to traditional parties to keep them out of power.
With presidential elections due in 2017, the anti-immigration FN had hoped the regional polls would act as a springboard for leader Marine Le Pen.
But despite a best-ever national vote tally for the FN, she was trounced by the right-wing opposition in the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region after the ruling Socialists pulled out of the race before the second round.
Her 26-year-old niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen was also clearly defeated by the right-wing grouping in the southern region that includes the glitzy resorts of the Cote d’Azur, despite dominating the first round last week.
The party had topped the vote in six of 13 regions on December 6, with a 28 percent national share, propelled by anger over the struggling economy and fears created by last month’s jihadist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.
But exactly a month on from those attacks, voters turned out in force — some 58 percent took part, up from 50 percent in the first round — and once again trounced the FN when it came down to the wire.
One of the biggest upsets on Sunday came in the Paris region, which shifted from left to right for the first time in 17 years.
Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that despite the result “the danger of the far-right has not been removed, far from it”.
Sarkozy, leader of the Republicans party, praised the voters who turned out on Sunday but said “the warnings” of the first round must not be forgotten.
The front page of conservative daily Le Figaro announced “The right wins, the left holds up, the FN falls”, but the Catholic newspaper Le Croix was more succinct, saying only “Everybody loses”.