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Regional Elections - 06 December 2015

France’s regional elections, the first round of which took place on December 6, followed by a second round on December 13, decided who would serve as representatives in each of France’s 13 newly redrawn regions. The elections include two rounds, with a candidate needing to secure more than 50 percent of the vote to win in the first round, and at least 10 percent to reach the second round, which takes place if no candidate gets more than 50 percent in the first.

The elections are the first in the country since it redrew its internal borders last year, reducing the number of regions from 22 to 13 while its number of departments (which make up each region) stayed the same at 101. France would elect 1,671 regional councilors for metropolitan France as well as for the overseas departments of Guadeloupe (41) and Réunion (45). At the same time, elections will be held for the 51 councilors of the Corsican assembly and 102 representatives for French Guyana and Martinique. In addition to the new number of regions, the length of the representatives’ terms has also been reduced. Typically six years, authorities brought the term down by nine months so the next elections will be held in March 2021. But not much else has changed.

The far-right National Front (FN) party rode a wave of fear over immigration and terrorism to storm to a commanding position in the first round of voting in the country’s high-stakes regional elections on 06 December 2015. The anti-immigration party led by Marine Le Pen scored 30.6 percent of the vote nationally, an exit poll by Ifop-Fiducial showed, and looked on course to take control of at least one French region for the first time in its history. FN leader Le Pen and her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen garnered more than 40 percent of the vote in both the north region and the southeast region, with the Socialists and conservatives far behind.

The party came ahead of both former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Les Républicains (formerly the UMP), which earned 27 percent, and President François Hollande’s Socialists, with 22.7 percent, according to the exit poll.

France's ruling Socialist Party said it was pulling third-placed candidates out of the second round of regional elections after the crushing National Front lead. Conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy was not following suit. The socialist party would tell its supporters to vote for candidates of the conservative The Republicans opposition party. The French electoral system has tended to keep the far right from power, with mainstream voters rallying against the National Front in second rounds.

France’s center-right emerged ahead in initial results of regional elections, beating back a surging far-right, one month after the Paris terrorist attacks by Islamist radicals. Early results showed the Republicans party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his center-right allies leading in at least seven out of 13 French regions, including the Ile de France area of Paris and outlying suburbs. The ruling Socialists and other leftist parties captured at least four.

After leading in six regions during the first round of voting a week earlier, the anti-immigrant, anti-European National Front failed to capture a single region. Both Le Pen and her 26-year-old niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, were decisively beaten in their respective regions as voters of all stripes rallied behind conservative candidates to block the far right.But the party’s strong showing - earning one-third or more of the vote in some regions - underscored its steady gains in recent years, including in March 2015 local elections and European Union elections in 2014.

Turnout was up by almost 10 percent compared to the first round. It rose sharply in areas where Le Pen’s party was strongest, suggesting many voters cast ballots to prevent the far right from winning. Le Pen accused establishment parties of ganging up to keep her out of power, adding that nothing could stop the National Front’s “inexorable rise”.

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Page last modified: 06-05-2016 19:55:08 ZULU