Projection: Far Right Thumped in France

National Front goes from hot to not in regional elections
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 13, 2015 4:23 PM CST
Projection: Far Right Thumped in France
French far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen exits from a polling booth on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Henin-Beaumont, northern France.   (Michel Spingler)

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front collapsed in French regional elections Sunday, failing to take a single region after dominating the first round of voting, pollsters projected. The conservatives surged against the governing Socialists, changing the political map of France. The failure of the National Front to gain any of the six regions where it was leading didn't stop the anti-immigration party from looking to the 2017 presidential election—Le Pen's ultimate goal. Le Pen had been riding high after extremist attacks and an unprecedented wave of migration into Europe, and the party came out on top in the voting in France's 13 newly drawn regions in the first round a week ago.

But projections by France's major polling firms suggested the party lost in all of the regions Sunday, including decisive losses for both Le Pen and her popular niece. "Here we stopped the progression of the National Front," says conservative Xavier Bertrand, who was projected to beat Le Pen in the Nord-Pas de Calais region. Le Pen supporters in a hall in the gritty northern town of Henin-Beaumont booed his image on a big screen as he spoke. The atmosphere was grim, in stark contrast to a week earlier when Le Pen won more than 40% of the vote—and was more than 15 points ahead of Bertrand. Le Pen struck an upbeat tone despite the rout, pledging to keep fighting to expand support for her party. She said she would in the coming weeks "rally all the French, of all origins, who want to join us." (More France stories.)

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