Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front failed to take a single region during the runoff of regional elections after dominating the first round of voting, pollsters projected. The conservatives of former president Nicolas Sarkozy surged against the governing Socialists, changing the political map of France.
The failure of the National Front to gain any of the six regions where it was leading didn't stop the anti-immigration party from looking to the 2017 presidential election — Le Pen's ultimate goal.
Le Pen had been riding high after extremist attacks and an unprecedented wave of migration into Europe, and the party came out on top in the voting in France's 13 newly drawn regions in the first round a week ago. But projections by France's major polling firms suggested the party lost in all of the regions on Sunday, including decisive losses for both Le Pen and her popular niece.
Here we stopped the progression of the National Front, said conservative Xavier Bertrand, who was projected to beat Le Pen in the Nord-Pas de Calais region.
Le Pen supporters in a hall in the gritty northern town of Henin-Beaumont booed his image on a big screen as he spoke. The atmosphere was grim, in stark contrast to a week earlier when Le Pen won more than 40 percent of the vote — and was more than 15 points ahead of Bertrand.
The tables turned on Sunday as Bertrand beat Le Pen by nearly 15 points.
Le Pen struck an upbeat tone despite the rout, pledging to keep fighting to expand support for her party. She said she would in the coming weeks rally all the French, of all origins, who want to join us.
Nothing will stop us, she told cheering supporters.
Le Pen won 42.8% compared with Bertrand's 57%, according to the Interior Ministry. Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, took 46% in the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, compared with 53.7% for conservative Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi.
The conservatives were boosted to victory in the two Le Pen races with help from the Socialists who withdrew their candidates, asking voters to give their ballots to the mainstream rival. Turnout rose sharply from the first round, suggesting that many voters wanted to prevent the once-pariah National Front from gaining power.
In all, the conservative Republicans took seven regions, and the Socialists won five, Interior Ministry results showed. Among prizes falling to the conservatives was the Paris region, long a Socialist bastion.
Turnout was 7% higher than for the previous regional elections in 2010, with 50.4% of those eligible to vote casting ballots by 5 p.m. (1600 GMT), three hours before polls closed in big cities, according to the Interior Ministry.
In the past, the National Front has performed well in first-round votes but failed to carry through in the final round. That reflects a fear of allowing a party associated with extremism to take power.
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Does it matter if she wants the Presidency that she lost in the Regions?Dec 14th, 2015 - 11:49 am 0
The frog system is so convoluted anything can happen and if another Batshit Mad Muslim guns some more people down Le Pen could well get it.
I have a feeling in France, Germany & the Scandanavian countries will all move a little too far right...Dec 14th, 2015 - 08:15 pm 0
Germany is mess and my friend that lives in Norway says he doesn't recognize his country any longer. He hates it there.