13 December 2015

Good News, at Least in the Short Term

The right wing National Front, after scoring a stunning win in the initial round of regional elections in France, struck out in the 2nd, and final, round of elections:
France’s far-right Front National has failed to win control of any regions in the final round of local elections despite a historically high score in the first-round when it was ranked as the most popular party in France.

The defeat of FN was down to mass tactical voting, an increase in turnout and warnings by the left that what it called the “antisemitic and racist” party would bring France to its knees. All this combined to stop FN translating its huge first-round score of nearly 28% into the overall control of any region.

After big gains by the Front National in regional elections, leftwing voters in some areas are being asked to vote for the rightwing Les R├ępublicains party

But the far-right party still won a record number of votes in the final round: at least 6.6m, handing a significant boost to the party leader Marine Le Pen’s bid to run for president in 2017.


Exit polls on Sunday night showed that, with less than 18 months to go until the next French presidential election, the nationalist, anti-immigration, anti-European FN still gained hundreds of regional councillors across France — tripling its presence on regional councils and extending its nationwide reach, cementing its grassroots powerbase and boosting its quest for power nationwide.  


Addressing her supporters, Le Pen presented her party as the victim of “calumny and defamation” by the government who she said had “intimidated and infantilised” voters by teaming up with its rivals on the right to keep FN out of power. She said her party’s rise was inexorable.

She said the tactical voting by leftwingers who chose Nicolas Sarkozy’s rightwing Les R├ępublicains party in order to put up a “barricade” against FN had already played into her claim that she and her voters were the victims of an elitist system that persecuted them. She vowed during the campaign that her voters would take their revenge by turning out in even greater numbers during the presidential campaign.

Le Pen herself failed to capitalise on her high first-round score in the vast northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, after the Socialist party pulled out of the race and made an extraordinary plea for its voters to choose Sarkozy’s candidate Xavier Bertrand just to stop Le Pen. First estimations showed that Bertrand, Sarkozy’s former employment minister, won with a resounding 57% of the vote, with Le Pen taking 42.8%.
Right wing populist parties, like the FN, live off feelings of betrayal by the "elites", and this election, where Socialist candidates withdrew from the elections to provide a firewall against the FN, plays into this narrative.

I expect for Marine Le Pen to make it into the 2nd round of the Presidential elections next time around as a result of this.

Considering that both current President Holland and former President Sarkozy are both about as popular as as a case of the Clap, we are going to see a lot more nose holding of voters in upcoming elections.


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