From migrants to European unity: A look at what's at stake in the French regional vote

PARIS -- France's regional election runoffs Sunday has taken on extra importance after Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party dominated first-round voting, selling its anti-immigrant, tough-on-security message to voters worried about an unprecedented wave of refugees and Islamic State violence.

See Full Article

Here's a look at what's at stake:

LE PEN'S PROSPECTS

The vote -- the last nationwide election before France's 2017 presidential vote -- is seen as a gauge of political sentiment, especially Marine Le Pen's presidential chances.

While National Front party lists dominated in six of France's 13 regions, several polls suggest it could lose that edge in Sunday's final round.

Le Pen herself is facing a tough challenge by conservative former labour minister Xavier Bertrand in the northern region of Nord-Pas de Calais-Picardie. Likewise for her niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, running in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur against conservative Nice Mayor Claude Estrosi.

The two National Front women scored more than 40 per cent each in the first round. That's in part because the struggling Socialists, the party of President Francois Hollande, withdrew their candidates in both regions in favour of rival conservatives -- in hopes of keeping the Le Pens out of power.

But the outcome Sunday remains unclear. The nearly 50 per cent of people who failed to cast ballots in the Dec. 6 first round could hold the key to the runoff.

MIGRANTS AND MUSLIMS

Le Pen has worked hard to soften the image of her party from the days it was run by her father, Jean-Marie, repeatedly convicted of racism and anti-Semitism.

The party's main target is immigrants, and what Le Pen sees as a threat to France from Islam. Le Pen and her niece have said that they would refuse funding to interests representing a single community, a reference to Muslim groups.

The National Front's long-standing calls to increase security and lock out immigrants dovetailed this year with two deadly attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris and an unusually large influx of migrants to Europe.

EUROPEAN UNITY

Another nemesis of the National Front is the European Union. The party wants to pull France out of the 28-nation EU and the shared euro currency and restore what it touts as the country's past greatness.

That resonates with many voters frustrated that governments left and right have failed to bring down France's 10 per cent unemployment and at France's shrinking global economic clout.

Far-right and nationalist parties have gained ground across Europe in recent years, from Greece to Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands and elsewhere -- partly due to Europe's immigration crisis.

RISING RIGHT, LIMPING LEFT

All but one of France's regions are currently run by the Socialists, who have seen their support shrivel since Hollande won the presidency in 2012.

The Socialists came in an embarrassing third place in the nationwide vote in the first round, though polls suggest they could win back a bit of support in the runoff.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative Republicans party may come out on top Sunday, taking several regions. Sarkozy, also eyeing a 2017 presidential bid, would welcome such a victory.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has led the Socialist charge against the National Front -- and warned Friday that its victory could sow divisions that "could lead to civil war."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • U.K.'s Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn face tough questions on live TV

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn faced tough questions and a skeptical audience in a live TV event Monday night ahead of next week's parliamentary elections. It was not a debate, but did air policy and stylistic differences between the two foes. Source
  • Alberta on Ontario's road to ruin, report says

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Is Alberta the new Ontario? A Fraser Institute analysis found the fiscally prudent western province is bleeding more budget red ink per capita than Ontario did in its post-recession heyday of epic deficits. “Until recently, by far the largest deficits of any province since the turn of the century were those run by Ontario in the years during and following the financial crisis of 2008/09 . Source
  • Tiger unharmed after killing zookeeper, British police say

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - British police say a tiger that killed a female zookeeper has not been destroyed. Few details have been released about the incident at Hamerton Zoo Park that claimed the life of 34-year-old zookeeper Rosa King. Source
  • Death toll from thunderstorm in Moscow climbs to 16

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- The death toll from a powerful thunderstorm in Moscow and its suburbs has reached 16 as dozens still remain in hospital, Russian officials said on Tuesday. The Investigative Committee said in a statement on Tuesday that 11 people in Moscow and five others in the suburbs were killed as high winds and rain ripped through the Russian capital on Monday, felling trees, tearing off roofs and damaging over 2,000 cars. Source
  • Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue doused with paint - again

    World News CTV News
    COPENHAGEN -- Danish officials on Tuesday hosed down Copenhagen's famed Little Mermaid after the statue was found doused with red paint. On the ground in front of the statue was written in the red, in English, "Denmark defend the whales of the Faeroe Islands" -- likely a reference to the drive hunting of pilot whales in the North Atlantic islands during the summer months, Danish media say. Source
  • Bangladesh storm kills 3, destroys thousands of homes

    World News CBC News
    A tropical storm lashed southern Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing at least three people and destroying thousands of poorly built homes in some remote islands in the Bay of Bengal, officials said. Tropical Storm Mora started crossing the country's southern coastal region early in the day. Source
  • Manchester Victoria rail station reopens after suicide blast

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- The railway station next to Manchester Arena reopened Tuesday, more than a week after an attacker detonated a bomb in a crowd leaving a concert, killing 22 and injuring dozens. Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling were among those who laid wreaths at Victoria station, which also suffered damage in the blast. Source
  • Manuel Noriega, former Panamanian dictator, dies at 83 [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    PANAMA CITY — Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, a onetime U.S. ally who was ousted as Panama’s dictator by an American invasion in 1989, died late Monday at age 83. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela wrote in his Twitter account that “the death of Manuel A. Source
  • Ex-student leader wins Montreal riding for left-leaning Quebec solidaire

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Former Quebec student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois strolled to victory for Quebec solidaire in a provincial byelection in the Montreal riding of Gouin on Monday. Nadeau-Dubois, 26, dominated the field, capturing just more than 69 per cent of the popular vote to cement the win in the riding where he'd been heavily favoured. Source
  • Nighttime, morning bombings in Baghdad kill 27

    World News CBC News
    A massive bombing by ISIS outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad and a rush hour car bomb in another downtown area killed at least 27 people on Tuesday, Iraqi officials said. The attacks come as ISIS militants are steadily losing more territory to U.S. Source