France’s far right National Front Party has failed to make gains in regional elections, despite coming out on top in the first round of voting. Tactical voting by National Front opponents helped to keep them out of power.
Supporters of the National Front made their feelings clear as results trickled in from across France. Despite winning six out of 13 regions in the first round, the party failed to gain control of any of the 13 regions in Sunday’s final vote.
But analyst Marta Lorimer of the London School of Economics says it was still a significant result.
“At the same time they have gained the highest number of votes in their history. It is a party that has a 40-year history and they just reached almost seven million votes," said Lorimer.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen struck a defiant tone.
"The global elite is acting for the dilution of France and its people in a huge worldwide melting pot. We patriots hope that the nation constitutes the most protective space for the French," said Le Pen.
France remains officially in a state of emergency, almost a month after the Islamic State-inspired terror attacks across Paris that left 130 people dead. But fear of Islamist terrorism does not explain the National Front’s rise, says Lorimer.
“They are winning a lot in regions that historically voted for the Communist party and for the far left. A lot of people who do not win from globalization, who may not be patriots, but who are still feeling that things were better when it was just about France and not about Europe or the world," she said.
Marine Le Pen promised supporters that her party would return stronger in 2017, when she hopes to challenge for the French presidency.