PARIS (Sep. 27)
Jean-Marie Le Pen’s far right-wing National Front suffered a stunning defeat in the regional elections Sunday.
It scored a bare 5.26 percent of the vote compared to the nearly 15 percent it won in France’s presidential elections last April.
Even in Marseilles, the party’s stronghold, the National Front emerged with 18.19 percent, down more than 10 percent from its April showing.
The dismal results greatly reduced any chances the center-right and Gaullist parties would enter into some sort of electoral alliance with Le Pen’s faction.
That possibility was raised after the presidential balloting, at least in some of the larger cities where Le Pen scored heavily last spring.
Out of 2,042 seats at stake Sunday for district councils, the National Front scored only one victory, with over 1,500 candidates in the running.
French voters will cast ballots again next Sunday, in a second-round run-off between the two top candidates. The far right is out the race because none of its candidates came anywhere near the top.
The regional elections are regarded as a dress rehearsal for the far more important municipal elections next spring. Jewish observers feared that if Le Pen’s party won more than 10 percent of the popular vote last Sunday, it would have become a serious force in French politics.
Although he denies charges of anti-Semitism, Le Pen has publicly denigrated the Holocaust.