Posted December 07, 2015 06:59:09

France’s far-appropriate National Front topped the vote nationally in the first round of high-stakes regional elections on Sunday, exit polls showed.

Boosted by fears more than the November 13 Islamic State attacks that killed 130 individuals in Paris, stubbornly higher unemployment and worries about immigration, Marine Le Pen’s party secured 30.six per cent of the vote nationally, an exit poll by Ifop-Fiducial showed.

The anti-Europe, anti-immigration celebration beat former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative Les Republicains party and their allies, who secured 27 per cent, into second place.

As expected, president Francois Hollande’s ruling Socialists came third, polling 22.7 per cent.

Ahead of a second round in a week’s time, the National Front (FN) has not won any region outright. But if the outcome is confirmed, it would be well-placed in the December 13 run-off. It has so far only ruled in fewer than a dozen French towns.

Ms Le Pen herself came 1st in the north and her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen in the southeast, each gaining much more than 40 per cent of the votes in those two regions.

The FN has come 1st in six regions out of 12, another poll for France 2 tv showed, with the result for the 13th region, Paris, not yet recognized.

Winning even 1 regional constituency would be a key boost for Ms Le Pen, who desires to use a base of locally elected officials to target the prime levels of power. Her eye is on the 2017 presidential and common elections.

The important question will now be whether the Socialists, third behind the FN and the Republicans in regions which the far-correct could win on December 13, will pull out of the race in these regions to try to maintain them out of power.

The Socialist party’s prime officials have been meeting on Sunday evening but might make their choice recognized only on Monday.

French regions rule more than local transport and economic development as effectively as higher schools and vocational coaching, with beefed-up powers after a reform that cut their numbers from 22 to 13.

Reuters

Subjects: globe-politics, france

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