Far-right and Macronists face setback in French regional polls while traditional parties hold ground

The center-right conservative Les Républicains (LR) and allies managed to win in seven regions while the center-left Socialist Party (PS) and allies won five regions in mainland France

July 01, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Regional elections -France
French departments and party wise majority. (Photo: via L’Humanite)

In the elections held to the regional councils and presidencies of France, the traditional center-right and center-left parties retained their strongholds while the liberal La République En Marche (LREM) led by French president Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Rally (RN) led by Marine Le Pen faced severe defeat as they failed to win a majority in any of the regions in mainland France. The center-right conservative Les Républicains (LR) and its allies managed to win in seven regions while the center-left Socialist Party (PS) and its allies won five regions in mainland France. The first and the second round of voting to the 18 regional presidencies – 13 in mainland France and Corsica and five overseas territories – were held on June 20 and June 27, respectively. 

The elections which witnessed a historically low voter turnout rate (66.7% abstentions in the first round and 65.7% abstentions in second round) delivered disappointing results to both Macron and his far-right rival Le Pen. Prior to the elections, many political commentators had opined that the regional elections will be a trial run for the upcoming presidential polls where Macron and Le Pen have been considered as the front runners. But the results have exposed that the political scenario in France is much more complicated as the traditional parties are maintaining their strongholds and bases and are likely to play a significant role in the upcoming French presidential polls in 2022. 

The difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the general disenchantment of the people towards the austerity-driven governance of Macron are said to be the major reasons for the high rate of abstentions from voting in the regional polls.

Following the announcement of the results, the French Communist Party (PCF) stated that “the results of the second round of regional and departmental elections remain marked by a historic abstention, thus confirming the depth of the crisis of representation and of the institutions which is suffocating democracy in our country.”

“The failure of Macron’s party is further amplified compared to the first round. The policy of the executive power is clearly sanctioned. The government must hear the message of the French and give up its reforms of social regression,” added the PCF.

The PCF increased its number of regional councilors from 29 to 62 in the elections. Perspective Communiste reported that two representatives of the Reunion Communist Party (PCR), Nadine Damour-Gironcel and Virginie Gobalou, were elected to the regional council of the French overseas department of Reunion. Left-wing candidates Huguette Bello and Gabriel Serville have been elected as the regional heads of the French overseas departments of Reunion and French Guiana, respectively.