The regional elections unveil a new political map in France

In the second round of the French regional elections, conducted last Sunday 13th December, the National Front did not win in any regions, despite the excellent results of the first round. The ultra-right party led by Marine Le Pen was the party most voted in 6 out of the 13 regions in the first round.  In the end, the candidates of the right, united in candidacies under Sarkozy’s Republicans, have won in 7 regions. The Socialist Party has achieved better results than expected and has won 5 regions. Corsica gives the colourful note with a victory of the nationalist party. The second round had a high voter turnout of 59.14%, in comparison to 49.99% in the first round.

Until now, the Socialist Party was governing all French regions except for Alsace. These elections, under the New Territorial Organisation of the Republic that redefines the regional council’s powers and reduces the number of regions from 22 to 13, have unveiled a new political map in the country. 

Philippe Richert, former President of Alsace and former Minister for Territorial Authorities during Sarkozy’s government, has been elected President of the Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorrain region and he seems to be destined to be one of the strong men of French regionalism. The new President of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, Xavier Bertrand, will also have a strong weight on the regional debate. He had been Minister and Secretary General of the UMP.  He and the new President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Christian Estrosi, have defeated Marine Le Pen and her family clan of the National Front.  The elections in Ile de were very close, with a final victory by Valérie Pécresse, of the right-wing party. She was Minister and government spokesperson during Sarkozy’s Government.

The left wing and the Socialist Party have managed to keep Bretagne, Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes, Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Centre-Val de Loire. It is worth highlighting Alain Rousset’s victory, former President of Aquitaine and now president of the Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes macroregion.  Rousset, who has also been until now President of the Association of French Regions (ARF), also seems destined to have a prominent role in the regional level. The President of the International Association of Francophone Regions and of Rhône-Alpes, Jean-Jack Queyranne, has not been re-elected as President of the new Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

The nationalists have conquered the Corsican Assembly. With 35.34 % of the votes cast in favour of the Pè a Corsica Party, Gilles Simeoni, Mayor of Bastia, won comfortably in the second round with 24 seats in a territorial assembly which counts 51 members. 

Even if the National Front has not won in any regions, their number of regional councillors has tripled since 2010. The extreme right party has experienced a remarkable growth in the last few years, with a historic high of over 6.8 million votes. Their regional councillors will be the main opposition groups to the regional councils. 

The newly elected presidents will take office on the 1st January 2016, also when the New Territorial Organisation of the Republic (NOTRe) adopted last 16th July in the French Parliament will take effect.  This way, not only the regional borders will change, but also the new framework of powers will be deployed. ORU offers its support to the new regional leaders and hopes to work together with the governments of the new French regions. 

 

 

Related content:

France approves a territorial reform. ORU, 17/09/2015

Follow up of the French regional elections in Le Monde: lemonde.fr/elections-regionales-2015

 

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