Friday

15th Nov 2019

Far-right gives Hollande a bloody nose in French voting

  • Le Pen's anti-immigrant party is set for gains in municipal elections in France (Photo: frontnational.com)

Initial results in French regional elections show the growing popularity of Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National party.

Exit polls indicate it got 7 percent of the vote nationwide, compared to 43 percent for President Francois Hollande’s Socialists and 48 percent for the centre-right UMP.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

But the FN fielded just 596 candidates in the 36,000 French municipalities where votes took place

It beat the centrist parties in a dozen or so southern cities, including Beziers, Saint-Gilles, Frejus, and Perpignan.

It won in the former Socialist stronghold of Henin-Beaumont, near Lille, and came a close second in other traditionally Socialist constituencies, like Nimes, Cavaillon, Istres and Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

It also made in-roads in Marseille, and in cities further north like Metz, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Amiens, and Quimper. In Marseille, the far-right candidate pushed the Socialist contender into third place, with the centre-right incumbent out on top.

Around 61 percent of the electorate voted, a historic low in a municipal election, with a second round of voting set for next week.

Le Pen told TF1 television on Sunday: “The National Front has arrived as a major independent force - a political force both at the national and local level.”

But Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said more people need to turn out and vote in the second round to prevent the FN from sealing its victories. “Wherever the FN is in a position to win the second round, all who support democracy and the Republic have a duty to prevent them,” he noted.

Hollande’s popularity has nosedived in recent months, amid high unemployment, sluggish growth, and personal embarassments for the centre left leader.

His approval rating is just 23 percent, but was as low as 15 percent - the lowest such figure in French history.

At the same time, Le Pen is said to have made her party more palpable to the general public by including left-wing elements in its image.

An MEP since 2004, Le Pen is stanchly anti-EU, wants tighter border controls, and an exit from the euro.

French Socialists bruised in local elections

France's ruling Socialists have suffered a bruising defeat in local elections, with the centre-right claiming victory and the anti-EU National Front making further gains – a possible preview of the upcoming EU elections.

Agenda

Key moments for new commission This WEEK

MEPs will decide on Monday if they want the Hungarian commissioner-designate to come back for a second hearing, as commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen hopes to finally take office on 1 December.

EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner

The European Commission has started an infringement proceeding against the United Kingdom for failing to nominate a commissioner-candidate. The new commission, which wants to launch on 1 December, first requires a commissioner from each of the 28 EU states.

Opinion

Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room

Over the years, both real and perceived levels of corruption in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have remained high. The necessary reforms in those countries, to put it mildly, are not yet effectively carried out.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Podcast

Cultural Battlefield

Marta Keil knows firsthand the pressure on culture from Poland's ruling Law and Justice party. Her overview begins at the Polski theatre in the city of Wrocław, and describes an epic clash as the Polish museum sector is steadily hollowed-out.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us