Paris, Jun 20 (EFE).- France’s main center-right party garnered the largest number of votes nationwide in Sunday’s first round of regional elections, while the far-right National Rally of Marine Le Pen failed to meet expectations.
With official results not expected until Tuesday, media outlets using a combination of partial tabulations and responses to exit polls estimated that Les Republicains (LR) took roughly 29 percent of the vote amid record-low turnout of less than 33 percent of the roughly 48 million eligible voters.
The combined vote for the Socialist Party, the Greens and the leftist France Unbowed exceeded LR’s total.
LR will head into the June 27 second round with the lead in six of the 13 regions, while parties of the left have the edge in five others.
The National Rally are ahead only in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region, which includes Marseille, France’s second city.
President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist La Republique en Marche (LREM) fared poorly.
In the northern region of Hauts-de-France, the LREM finished behind both LR and the National Rally, falling below the threshold of 10 percent of the vote needed to take part in the second round.
The trio seen as the main contenders for the LR’s 2022 presidential nomination: Xavier Bertrand (Hauts-de-France), Valerie Pecresse (Ile-de-France) and Laurent Wauquiez (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes), seem assured of winning re-election as the heads of the respective regional councils.
Negotiations among the parties about tactical alliances in the second round will begin in earnest on Monday.
But Socialist chief Olivier Faure said Sunday that his party would not compete in the second round in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur if “there is the slightest possibility” their participation could facilitate a victory for the National Rally.
France Unbowed will do “everything possible convince everyone not to give any region to the National Rally,” the party’s founder and leader, Jean-Luc Melenchon, said.
“I can only but regret this civic disaster, which has very largely deformed the electoral reality of the country and given a misleading idea of the political forces at play,” Le Pen said after Sunday’s vote.
“If you want things to change, get out and vote,” she said, calling on “patriots” to mobilize for the second round. EFE