From Paris

A compliant and almost exact copy, the second round of the regional and departmental elections that were held this Sunday, June 28 in France, certified the trends of the first round of a week ago: Radical abstention, defeat of the extreme right where they aspired to set a trend, upturn of the right, maintenance of the power of the Socialists in the five regions that were under their administration, shipwreck of the presidential party LRM (La República en Marcha) and excellent results for environmentalists whose percentages prove that the movement is taking root in the electoral options of the country.

The French elector once again showed a historical democratic apathy with an abstention of 65.7% compared to 66.7% a week ago. These percentages make abstentionists the first party in France. Campaigns on television, debates, promoting the vote on social networks, intervention by political leaders from all sectors to mobilize voters had no effect.

The other great lesson of this latest consultation before the 2022 presidential elections is lThe defeat of the extreme right of Marine Le Pen (RN party, National Regrouping). All his candidates present in the second round fell by the wayside. The failure is particularly shocking in the PACA region, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, the only region where its candidate, Thierry Mariani, truly had a chance to win. The representative of the right and outgoing president of the region, Renaud Muselier, obtained 56.8% thanks to the Republican front that was formed around his candidacy. The Socialists stood aside and chose to vote in his favor to close the way to the Lepenist party.

The second round amplified the lines drawn by the first as regards the redistribution of the political weight of the parties. The French PS was not wiped off the map while the right wing of the Republicans came out of the caverns with results that place their leaders in a comfortable position to, eventually, contest the 2022 presidential elections in other conditions. The leaders of the classic right with presidential aspirations emerged from the shadow in which the renewed and hypothetical duel between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron had locked them.

Xavier Bertrand (Hauts-de-France, 52.7%), Laurent Wauquiez (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, 55.9%) and Valérie Pecresse (Ile-de-France, 45.1%), have now become alternatives possible to the dead-end trend that opinion polls had been marking, that is, a second presidential round in 2022 with the same protagonists as in 2017, that is, Emmanuel Macron against Marine Le Pen. No event seemed to be able to change this configuration until, after the end of the restrictions caused by the pandemic, the voters, although with alarming degrees of abstention, restored a right that had practically disappeared at the same time that they validated the socialist options in the regions where the PS was in power. Precisely, those who are left the most politically damaged are the party of Marine Le Pen, RN, and that of the current head of state, La República en Marcha. Lepenism did not win a single region; The eight macronist candidates who remained in the second round finished in third or fourth position. In votes, the presidential party added 7% in the first round and a shy 10% in the second. The president’s movement has failed to establish itself locally.

Macron and Le Pen, the losers

The biggest defeat falls to Marine Le Pen. Ten years after taking control of the party after a public fight with her father and founder of the French far right, Jean-Marie Le Pen, her daughter collided with a result that slows a dynamic of continuous electoral expansion. The strategy that Marine Le Pen adopted to “normalize” the party and dilute it among the other formations runs the risk of precipitating an internal crisis and the challenge of its leadership.

In the Altos de Francia region where the conservative Valérie Pecresse faced the list of the union of the left led by the ecologist Julien Bayou (33.9%), a pathetic situation arose that the crisis of the PS had a lot to do with. The former prime minister of former president François Hollande, the “socialist” Manuel Vals, called for a vote for the candidate of the right. Vals, together with Hollande, has become part of the museum of the shadowy characters who served as undertakers of French socialism. If you look at the map of France according to political colors, the black areas that represented the extreme right have disappeared this Sunday. The map is a series of pink and blue layers (PS and right). The relationship of forces between the Social Democracy, the left and the environmentalists compared to the right is less sharp than 5 years ago. According to the IFOP pollster, on a national scale, Republicans add 38% of the vote compared to 34.5% of Socialists, Greens and other groups on the left.

Nobody knows yet if the abstentionism is due to a democratic detachment, to the consequences of the long months of confinement and deprivation or to a bad evaluation of these regional and departmental elections. The two winners of 2017, Macron and Le Pen, are the losers of 2021. Nothing is at stake at all, but the conviction of two weeks ago was diluted at the polls. If the leaders of the right do not tear each other apart, the conservative current has arguments to replace Le Pen. If the left and the environmentalists put aside their scenic and destructive conspiracies, they can also stop being defeated extras and become candidates for the presidential goal.

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