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Le Pen falters, Macron flops, in French regional elections

French president Emmanuel Macron saw his La République en Marche party take only 11 per cent of the vote so far. 

French voters appear to have embraced the moderate politics of left and right, as both Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen face disappointment following the country’s first round of regional elections.

Left-wing parties obtained 34% of the vote nationwide, with 29% voting for conservative right-wing parties, whilst a further 19% voted for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally.

In an ominous sign for President Macron, several candidates from his party failed to reach the 10 per cent threshold needed to run in the next round, just 10 months out from the 2022 presidential election.

Hauts-de-France in northern France saw one of the most significant defeats for Macron, where Les Républicains conservative presidential hopeful Xavier Bertrand defeated both the National Rally and five of Macron’s ministers, with Bertrand telling the press he had “broken the jaws” of Le Pen’s party.

Aurore Bergé, an MP with Macron’s party, said their performance was a “democratic slap in the face for all of us”.

Marine Le Pen’s party had been expected to win at least one region and top the first round of polling, but it now appears National Rally will be in second place, a result she says is partly due to the “civic disaster” of low turnout, with only one in three eligible citizens voting.

“Let’s face it, the results were marked by a torrential and also historic abstention of nearly 70% due to the mistrust of an electoral system, which leaves voters with the feeling that nothing can change, that everything has been confiscated,” Le Pen said.

With more than 15,700 candidates running for 4,100 seats, the election is being seen as a bell-weather for the upcoming presidential run-off, with Les Républicains currently leading the way on 27 per cent of the vote.

Greater turnout in 2022 will almost certainly change the complexion of French politics again however.

The second-round run-off in these regional elections is set to take place on 27 June.

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