Answers will not be easy to find to restore trust and discourage protestby Christine Ockrent / December 14, 2015 / Leave a comment
The far right will not reign over any of the French regions after the second round of the last elections to be held before the 2017 presidential race.
One week after the staggering score of the FN—and one month to the day after the Paris terrorist attacks—the French behaved just like they did in 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen had won the first round of the presidential election against the socialist candidate: they rushed to the booths. Four million voters who had not bothered a week ago made their voices heard. Neither Marine Le Pen in the north nor her niece Marion in the south were able to celebrate their triumph.
Yet their defeat is deceptive. They lost because the socialist party, bravely, decided to commit suicide in its two historical strongholds and requested its supporters to vote for the conservative candidate. In both cases, the winners made a point of thanking the left, calling for concern over the kind of social anger which traditional politicians have dangerously neglected. Even then, the far right has managed to increase its score nationally. It will be able to appoint three times more local representatives than before. Its imprint in the political landscape will endure and prosper until 2017.
Contrary to their own expectations, the socialists have not endured a humiliating defeat. In spite of a close shave but symbolic defeat in the Paris area, they still control enough regions to deprive Nicolas Sarkozy of a real victory. The former president cannot boast of any winning strategy, challenged as he is in his own party in the forthcoming primaries. Last Sunday night, conservatives and socialists concurred and competed in promising humility and change. They know that in 18 months they will have to confront the far right again.