Sombre Post-Election Mood: Is the French Political Establishment in a Self-made Last Chance Saloon?
There was little joy and no comfort for France’s political leaders after Sunday’s regional elections. For while they succeeded in blocking the Front National’s serious challenge in two of 12 mainland regions they could not deny a massive surge in country-wide voter support for Marine le Pen’s nationalists.
London-based The Economist perhaps best summed it up: “…complacency about the FN in the face of these results would be a mistake. The party lost in the north and the south because of Socialist tactics; had this not happened, victory was within its grasp. In both the north and the south, the FN’s share of the vote was higher in the second round than in the first, though not high enough for a majority. And, with 28% and first place in the first round, the party has still pulled off its best-ever national result. Most importantly, Ms Le Pen can now play on a sense of victimhood—the ganging up of the mainstream parties against her. On Sunday night she spoke of a ‘campaign of calumnies and defamation decided in the gilded palaces of the Republic’. This will help her build support for the presidential election in 2017. The FN has lost this battle, but its political rise is far from over…”
France 24 reports: “The wave France’s National Front had been surfing has broken. The far-right party did not take a single region in the regional elections on Sunday December 13, but party leader Marine Le Pen had much to smile about”.