France’s extreme right-wing National Front (FN), under Marine Le Pen, has failed to win a single region in the second round of municipal elections. In the first round of voting on 6 December the FN were leading in 6 of the 13 regions. Most media are thus presenting the second round as a rout.
But it wasn’t really. The voting numbers were much the same. This election was an usual situation when the Communist and the Socialist parties persuaded many of their supporters in some sensitive seats to vote instead for Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right Republicans. “There are some victories that shame the winners,” Le Pen said afterwards. And so it was. It couldn’t be repeated in the future. The Republicans won’t reciprocate next time because Sarkozy is too intent on regaining the Presidency of France.
The NF is likely to do better next time because the French economy is failing and Germany will be far less willing to subsidise a large country like France. President Hollande has already put out feelers to Germany but Germany has begin to sound distinctly unenthusiastic, not to say dismissive. The bond between France and Germany, which holds the EU together, is becoming weaker by the day. The threat of the NF, which wants to leave the EU as its main policy plank is likely to grow, not diminish in the next year or two.