Marine Le Pen urged French voters to make history on Sunday by giving her anti-immigration National Rally party control of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in the south, in the last nationwide election before she runs against Emmanuel Macron. next year’s presidential vote.
Provence candidate Thierry Mariani – who sparked controversy By supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and defending Russia’s seizure of Crimea – she came out in the first round of regional elections a week ago and is hoping for victory in the second. The RN has never won control of a French region, despite its success in towns and cities in local elections.
“You can make history on Sunday. Vote!” Mariani He said on Twitter. After the first round in which only a third of French voters went to the polls and RN voters in particular stayed away, Le Pen also She urged her supporters To mobilize like never before: Don’t let elections be stolen from you.
But the far right RN performed worse than expected overall in the first round In 13 major regions of France, the Mariani Facing a united “Republic Front” In Provence that will try to remove him from power after the main Green Left candidate withdrew and threw the support of his coalition behind the incumbent of the centre-right, Renaud Muselier.
An Ifop-Fiducial poll last week suggested Muselier would win by a slim margin of 51 percent to 49 in the two-way competition.
The clear winners in the first round were the existing French parties of the left, centre-right, socialists and republicans. They were shattered by Macron’s unexpected victories in presidential and legislative elections four years ago, but are now likely to retain control of most or all of the regions they already administer, even though regional powers are largely limited to transportation and education policy.
The French Greens – the Écologie-Les Verts – also performed strongly in the recent elections, and under former Macron supporter Mathieu Orvillein and his left-wing allies are hoping to wrest control of the Pays de la Loire region in the west from the center-right.
Macron’s La République en Marche, a centrist party founded in 2016 to propel him to power the following year, fared worse than expected in the first round, winning just ten votes and failing even to qualify for the second round of four. Regions.
He will seek to revive the weakened party and is expected to announce a government reshuffle in the coming weeks, according to senior officials. Someone said Macron and his advisers need to learn the lessons of the first-round results. “It’s a real wake-up call and we have to paint the consequences.”
In the centre-right, which submitted to most French presidents in Charles de Gaulle’s Fifth Republic, their morale has been dented by the strong performance of candidates in regional elections thus far.
In the northern district of Hauts-de-France, Xavier Bertrand defied expectations And he crushed his RN rivals – he boasted of “smashing their mouths” – while also advancing Laurent Wauquiez in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in the southeast and Valérie Pecresse in Ile-de-France.
With presidential ambitions for both the three regional leaders and others, political analysts say, the main risk to the center-right is that the movement may fail to agree on a common candidate to challenge Macron and Le Pen next year.