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Macron and Le Pen both disappoint in French election
French elections

Macron and Le Pen both disappoint in French election

21.06.2021
Sitting president and far-right leader fare worse than expected in regional vote, according to exit polls, amid all-time low turnout
Marine Le Pen leaves a polling booth prior to casting her vote in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, on Sunday
Marine Le Pen leaves a polling booth prior to casting her vote in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, on Sunday
Photo credit: AFP

President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen fared worse than expected in the first round of France’s regional election, exit polls showed, in a disappointing twist for the two main contenders in the country’s 2022 presidential race.

The traditional right, which holds the most regions, garnered 29% on its own. The left-wing and Green parties, including that of far-left presidential hopeful Jean-Luc Melenchon and the Socialists, won 34%, according to an Ifop poll.

Le Pen’s National Rally got 19% - almost 10 points behind her score in the last election - and Macron’s party took 11%.

Turnout was at an all-time low, estimated at 32% on Sunday, with one recent survey showing many citizens didn’t even know what the elections were for.

Results might not translate into national politics when voters head to the polls again next April to choose a president. But they could help left-wing movements unite behind a candidate, something they’ve so far failed to do.

Only lists that obtained more than 10% in the first round of the election make it to the second round.

Macron’s party didn’t even exist in the last regional elections in 2015. It failed to poll first in the Paris region, Hauts-de-France, Grand Est and Centre-Val-de-Loire in this ballot, despite picking ministers as candidates. And it is unlikely to win any region on its own, in a sign that the movement has so far been unable to build a strong local base.

It’s still unclear whether Le Pen will finally win her first ever regional powerbase. Exit polls showed her popular lieutenant Thierry Mariani tying with the conservative incumbent Renaud Muselier in Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, the area around Marseille, the country’s second-most populous city, and the French Riviera, where surveys had showed her party winning.

Le Pen gave a gloomy speech in which she said her supporters shouldn’t be discouraged, and called on them flock to the polls for the second round on June 27.

Where her party is in with a chance of victory, the head of the president’s movement, Stanislas Guerini, said it will pull out of the second round if there’s another group that has a better prospect of preventing a far-right victory.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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