Marine Le Pen’s National Rally has suffered defeat in France’s regional elections. The RN did not win any of the eighteen regions in the second round on Sunday. The traditional right made a profit, the socialists held out and President Emmanuel Macron’s party was punished.
As with the first round on June 20, turnout was historically low: it is estimated at 35 percent, about the same as in the first round. This means that approximately two out of three French people did not vote, compared to almost nine out of ten among the young people.
This immediately means that the provisional result is not a very good indicator for next year’s presidential elections, where turnout is traditionally much higher. However, a few trends are emerging.
The polls had predicted that the far-right Rassemblement National would lead the first round in six regions. That eventually only happened in the Provences-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. But in the second round, RN candidate Thierry Mariani also lost out to the conservative candidate, Renaud Muselier. Nationally, the Rassemblement National won 21.2 percent of the vote.
Conservatives Preserve Regions
The French conservatives generally did very well: translated to the national level, Les Républicains received 36.9 percent of the vote. This makes them (excluding non-voters) the largest party in the country. All three of the right-wing’s leading candidates for the presidency, Xavier Bertrand, Laurent Wauquiez and Valérie Précesse, will keep the regions they already governed.
With 35 percent of the vote nationally, the left holds up quite well: the socialists will keep the five regions they already governed, whether or not in combination with the green party EELV.
Macron’s party, La République en marche (LREM), was punished. He had hoped to make a difference by sending a number of well-known names to the regions, but received only 6.4 percent of the vote nationally.
LREM dangles at the bottom
The party did not enter any region. Even in those regions where the LREM survived the first round, the party dangled at the bottom and was forced to call on its supporters to vote for the Republican candidate. In the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region (PACA), the LREM had not even nominated a candidate for these elections, in order to strengthen the position of the conservatives vis-à-vis the Rassemblement National.
Even before the election, there was a big fight within the Republicans about the presence of LREM members on the conservative list in PACA. Some of the conservatives want to distance themselves more from the current president, with a view to the presidential elections. Sunday’s result will reinforce that latter tendency.