Marine Le Pen votes in the French regional 2021 (LaPresse)
Those surprises. Until a few hours ago, traditional French parties seemed dead and buried. The victory of Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 presidential elections to the ballot with Marine Le Pen he seemed to have effectively retired pour toujours French Republicans and Socialists, substantially destroyed by the (otherwise) disastrous experiences of Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande. Hypothesis supported by the events of the following years, when the two historical forces of French politics not only did not take a ball at the political level, but also had to face economic problems. So much so that the Socialist Party was forced to sell the historic Parisian headquarters.
Regionals France, the Gaullist right first party. Malissimo En Marche by Macron
And instead, voila, the surprise of the 2021 regional elections. The great (and only) winner of the first round of an electoral round that on the eve was described as a test for the 2022 presidential elections is precisely the Republican party. The Gaullist right was the first party with 27% of the votes nationwide. Far away, and well below the triumphal expectations of the last few days, the Rassemblement National by Marine Le Pen, still just under 20%. Socialists and allies held up, coming in third place with just under 18% of the vote. En Marche of the president Emmanuel Macron comes only fifth, being overtaken even by greens (12.5%). The far left of the “ranking” closes La France Insoumise by Jean-Luc Melenchon (just over 4%).
Regionals France, unexpected success for the Republicains
The center-right candidates came out of the first round with a clear advantage in Ile-De-France, the region with Paris where the outgoing president Valerie Pecresse is at 36.4%, Upper France, Grand Est, Pays de la Loire, Auvergne-Rhône Alps and Normandy. In total, 7 of the 13 French regions in the vote see Gaullist candidates in the lead. It is no coincidence that the only one to speak positively about the outcome of the vote is Christian Jacob, president of Les Republicains, who also took the opportunity to attack the government for organizing regional elections, “unworthy of a great democracy”.
Regionals France, record abstention
The reference is to the numerous inefficiencies reported at the polling stations, open late or closed early due to lack of cards or tellers. Elements that may have contributed torecord abstention, estimated between 66.1% and 68.6%, against 54.67% in 2010. The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, said on Twitter that “the level of abstention is particularly worrying”. Melenchon himself has asked for a commission of inquiry to verify the responsibilities of a system that has not worked properly.
Regionals France, Marine Le Pen’s party loses 9%
Returning to the results, it is clear that the Gaullist statement worries (and not a little) both Le Pen and Macron. In recent months and in this election campaign, the leader of the Rassemblement National has focused precisely on conquering the moderate electorate, smelling the possible end of the republican right. This was not the case, indeed the Le Pen’s party lost 9% of the national vote. Thierry Mariani, a leading candidate of the far-right party, is engaged in a head to head in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. All the others never finished first.
Marine Le Pen fears the candidacy of far-right polemicist Eric Zemmour
Le Pen acknowledged the below-expected result and invited his readers to mobilize for a “second round revenge”, scheduled for June 27. And for her another threat looms on the horizon, namely the figure of Eric Zemmour, popular polemicist de Le Figarò known for its positions attributable to the far right. His 2022 presidential candidacy seems now only a matter of time before becoming official. It is clear that a rival like Zemmour could take away Le Pen votes from the right, while the return of the Republicans could take them away from the center.
Macron’s party very badly, the presidential elections of 2022 reopen
He is certainly not better off Macron. His party has fared badly everywhere, with a bad performance which confirms his scarce radically in the territory. Stanislas Guerini, executive president of En Marche, assured that Macron’s party “will assume its responsibilities“in the second round to ensure that the Rassemblement National does not conquer a single region.
The return of the Gaullists could also steal votes from Macron, who has always drawn from the moderate right. But to partial consolation of the French president is the fact that the French presidential elections have always been more and more anchored to individual candidates and not to parties. There Macron still has something to say. But, in the meantime, suddenly the race to the Elysée for 2022 potentially seems to be no longer just a two-way affair.