Le Pen defeated in second round of regional vote

Just one week after record results in the first round of regional elections, National Front fails to win a single region in second round.

Ben Ariel ,

Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen
Reuters

Just one week after record results in the first round of regional elections in France, the far-right National Front (FN), headed by Marine Le Pen, failed to win a single region in the second round on Sunday, AFP reports.

Le Pen lost out to the right-wing opposition in the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region after the ruling Socialists pulled out of the race before the second round.

Her 26-year-old niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen was also defeated by the right-wing grouping in the southern region that includes the glitzy resorts of the Cote d'Azur, despite dominating the first round last week, noted AFP.

The FN had topped the vote in six of 13 regions last week, propelled by anger over the struggling economy and fears created by last month's jihadist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.

But exactly a month on from those attacks, voters turned out in force -- some 58 percent took part -- and once again trounced the FN when it came down to the wire.

The ruling Socialists of President Francois Hollande and the center-right alliance of his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy looked to have won at least five regions each, according to AFP.

Despite the FN failing to grab its first-ever region, Le Pen will use her party's performance as a springboard for her bid for the 2017 presidential election.

In a defiant speech to supporters after polls closed, she said "nothing can stop us now".

"In its northern and southern bastions we've eradicated the evil-doing Socialist Party," she said, according to AFP.

"By tripling our number of councillors, we will be the main opposition force in most of the regions of France," she added.

Le Pen has reaped the rewards of her efforts to "de-demonize" the party bequeathed by her father, but it retains a stridently anti-immigrant edge. Critics accuse it of fomenting Islamophobia.

In September, it was reported that Le Pen would be charged with inciting racial hatred for comparing Muslims praying outdoors to the Nazi occupation of France. Le Pen denies the accusations.



top