French far right collapses in regional election runoff

PARIS -- Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front collapsed in French regional elections Sunday, failing to take a single region after dominating the first round of voting, pollsters projected.

See Full Article

The conservatives 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 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 per cent 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 per cent compared with Bertrand's 57 per cent, according to the Interior Ministry. Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, took 46 per cent in the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, compared with 53.7 per cent 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.

A nationalist not affiliated with a major party won Corsica.

Le Pen denounced the "campaign of calumny decided in the palaces of the (French) Republic," a reference to fear tactics by rivals, including Prime Minister Manuel Valls who said the National Front could lead the nation into "civil war."

Turnout was 7 per cent higher than for the previous regional elections in 2010, with 50.4 per cent 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. The figures weren't updated. The second-round turnout at the same time five years ago was 43. 4 per cent.

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.

Despite its loss, the National Front sent a message to the French.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that the far right remains a "danger" despite the defeat, and urged his country to rally together against extremism.

"France in moments of truth has always taken refuge in its real values," Valls said.

The National Front has racked up political victories in local elections in recent years, but winning control of any region would have been an unprecedented boost for the party ahead of presidential elections in 18 months.

Still, politicians on the left and right said mainstream parties must reassess their priorities.

"We can no longer continue like this. We must act," Socialist Party leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis told leftist ranks.

Indeed, the day kicked off the unofficial election season as politicians from all parties cast Sunday's results in terms of their presidential ambitions.

Chris den Hond in Henin-Beaumont contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Senators advance with OT victory over Bruins

    Canada News CBC News
    Clarke MacArthur scored the winner 6:30 into overtime as the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Sunday afternoon to win their Eastern Conference quarter-final series in six games. The goal was preceded by Boston right-winger David Pastrnak's holding penalty as he took down MacArthur, who scored on the rebound of Bobby Ryan's shot 36 seconds into the power play. Source
  • 'He's always going to be in our hearts': Memorial grows for toddler found dead in Edmonton

    Canada News CBC News
    Behind an Edmonton church where a toddler's body was found two days ago, snow fell on a memorial of teddy bears and flowers at the scene on Sunday as community members wait for answers from police. Source
  • These men want to be the first turbaned Sikhs elected to the B.C. Legislature

    Canada News CBC News
    This month marks 70 years since Sikhs were given the right to vote in British Columbia and two South Asian candidates want to mark the occasion by making a little history of their own on election day. Source
  • You can make a difference by donating your old bicycle

    Canada News CTV News
    If you have an old bicycle gathering dust in your garage, there’s a far better use for it. A new photography exhibit at Montreal’s Photo Café shows how donated bicycles can change the lives of people around the world. Source
  • MMIW advocate a victim in Whitehorse homicide investigation, family, friends say

    Canada News CBC News
    A Whitehorse advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women, whose own daughter was murdered in 2007, is now herself a homicide victim, friends and family tell CBC News. RCMP say 51-year-old Wendy Margaret Carlick, is one of two women found dead in a Whitehorse home April 19. Source
  • French citizens in Montreal express mixed reactions to early election results

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- French nationals in Montreal expressed mixed reactions on Sunday as preliminary results showed far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron leading in the first round of France's presidential election. At a French cultural centre in Montreal, both applause and boos rang out as a French TV station announced its projections just after the vote closed at 2 p.m. Source
  • 'He can't think straight': Mom pleads for teen charged with threatening Jewish centres

    World News CBC News
    An Israeli-American teenager accused of making dozens of bomb threats to Jewish community centres was identified for the first time on Friday in separate criminal complaints filed in U.S. federal courts in Florida and Georgia that linked him to hundreds of hoax calls in 2015 and 2017. Source
  • American monitor killed in Ukraine when mine hits vehicle

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- An American member of the OSCE's monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine died Sunday and two others were wounded when their vehicle was blown up by a mine in the separatist Luhansk region. The mission's deputy head, Alexander Hug, said the member killed was from the U.S. Source
  • How Kenya's drought has turned into violence: AP explains

    World News CTV News
    NAIROBI, Kenya -- The shooting of a novelist and conservationist in Kenya has drawn attention to the violent tensions between landowners and herders who are trying to keep their animals alive in a widespread drought. Source
  • U.S. officials say pirates have returned to waters off Somalia

    World News CTV News
    DJIBOUTI -- Pirates have returned to the waters off Somalia, but the spike in attacks on commercial shipping does not yet constitute a trend, senior U.S. officials said Sunday. The attacks follow about a five-year respite for the region, where piracy had grown to crisis proportions during the 2010-2012 period, drawing the navies of the United States and other nations into a lengthy campaign against the pirates. Source