French voters handed the far-right National Front a stinging defeat Sunday, shuffling the order of how the parties finished a week prior, in the first round of regional elections.
In the Dec. 6 round, the NF finished first, the opposition Republicans second and the governing Socialists third. At that point the NF had hopes of winning in six of France’s 13 regions in the second and final round. Instead, the center-right Republicans took seven regions and the Socialists, who formerly headed all regions, five. The National Front won on the island of Corsica.
Although the NF received more votes in the first round than ever before, it did so poorly the following week that even its party chief, Marine Le Pen, did not win. This is what the French call “tactical voting,” in which voters of two parties cast ballots in such a way to deny a third party a victory.
It is interesting that the voters would do that, particularly since the far right had hopes of winning based on fear stimulated by the lethal attacks in Paris last month. There is also popular discontent stemming from France’s economic problems and the government’s generous approach to immigration from the east. Regardless, the electorate stayed cool after the attacks and resisted the appeals of the NF.
The implications for France’s 2017 presidential elections are unclear.
Americans may find even less to draw from. Does Donald Trump equal Marine Le Pen? Do Americans scare more easily than the French? At this point who can say?