PARIS — Mainstream left-wing and right-wing parties surged ahead in French regional elections Sunday, outpacing both Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally.
Nationwide, left-wing parties obtained 34 percent of the vote, compared to 29 percent of the vote for the right and 19 percent for far-right National Rally. La République en Marche, sometimes allied with other centrists or conservatives, obtained around 11 percent of the vote, and in some regions Macron’s candidates failed to make it across the threshold to run in the second round.
It indicates voters have largely chosen to support the outgoing presidents of regional councils, who are mostly from the mainstream left and the right.
Ten months out from the 2022 French presidential election, the regional elections are seen as important bellwethers for the national mood as the country emerges from over a year in and out of coronavirus lockdowns.
In the northern region of Hauts-de-France, the conservative and presidential hopeful Xavier Bertrand obtained 41,39 percent of the votes, compared to 24,37 percent for the National Rally.
In a statement Sunday evening, Bertrand declared triumphantly that he had “broken the jaws” of the National Rally.
The candidates for La République en Marche (LREM) got just over 9 percent of the vote, under the 10 percent threshold to have a chance to run in the second round. That signals a humiliating defeat for Macron, who dispatched five ministers to run in the region in an attempt to boost results.
If confirmed by the final tally, Sunday’s results will also be a disappointment for supporters of the far right’s National Rally. Le Pen was hoping to take at least one regional council — a victory that would lend her party much-needed credibility.
The race in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, where Le Pen was hoping for a clear win, appears tighter than expected. National Rally’s candidate, Thierry Mariani, obtained 36,38 percent of the vote. This puts the far right candidate ahead of the rightwing candidate Renaud Muselier, who is also backed by the LREM, at 31,91 percent.
The regional elections are taking place over two rounds, with candidates getting more than 10 percent of the votes facing off in a run-off round to be held June 27.
Following Sunday’s first-round vote, parties have until Tuesday morning to build alliances and register their lists of candidates for the second round.
In 2015, the left obtained 36 percent of the vote, ahead of the conservatives with 32 percent of the vote and the then-National Front at 27 percent of the vote. La République en Marche had not yet been created.
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