France: Nearly a Million Votes for the Far-Right.
Marine Le Pen: Not Universally Admired.
Last Sunday’s First round of the local elections saw nearly a million votes go to the Front National.
The Guardian reported,
While France’s local elections on Sunday were notable for record voter abstention and a bloody nose for the governing Socialists, it was the far-right party’s showing in a crucial European election year that really stood out.
The anti-Europe FN, led by Marine le Pen, fielded candidates in fewer than 600 of France’s 36,000 municipalities – and still secured about 5% of the total votes cast at the weekend. As a result, expectations are mounting that it will do extremely well in May’s European elections.
Diverse local group, individuals, ‘notables’ 1,983,191
Extreme Right. 983,191
Gauche radicale (that is the Front de gauche, though see below on this) 247,471
EELV 247,47 (Greens).
Extreme Left (small groups like the NPA and LO) 127,674
These totals are complicated by local alliances, which are extremely intricate (sometimes Communist Party with the Socialists, sometimes Parti de gauche with the Greens – as in Grenoble).
Are there simple conclusions.
The situation, as Libération points out today, may be not at all clear cut.
Their break-through in Hénin-Beaumont – town that has become a symbol – was not encouraging.
In Brignoles and Perpignan left candidates have stood down, to allow the Republican forces to stand against the far-right.
In Seine-Saint-Denis (the ‘red belt’) the Communists managed to maintain their vote.
L’Humanité carries an important editorial today on whether the Front National has achieved a real “breakthrough”.
It asks if France is today in the same situation as 2002, when Lionel Jospin was beaten in the first round of the Presidential election by Le Pen.
Should there be a wider “front républicain” uniting left and centre-right to fend off the Front National – as happened in 2002 when some on the left backed Chriac against Le Pen?
They suggest a large part of the responsibility for the present rise of far-right lies with President François Hollande and his ministers.
The second round (where needed) is on the 30th of March.
Update (Hat-Tip JM): on the problems between the French Communists (PCF) and the other parts on the Front de gauche over the second round. Fusions, quand le PCF dézingue le Front de gauche