Second round of local elections today
Although the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) did well in the first round of local elections on 23rd March, taking around 48% of the vote, it is the far-right National Front (FN) led by Marine Le Pen which is likely to get the headlines after today’s second round.
The FN won its first Mayor (Henin-Beaumont in northern France) in the first round and is expecting to pick up as many as 15 more towns across France today. Meanwhile President François Hollande’s Socialist Party (PS) took 43% in the first round and is expected to lose heavily today, the other half of tomorrow’s headlines as the president mulls a reshuffle of his Cabinet.
Turnout was low in the first round, allowing the FN to do well. The left suffered especially with their supporters staying at home in their traditional areas. The pollsters put this down to distrust of politicians in general and strong disapproval of the current government. Having said this, the UMP did well in the first round and are likely to be the strong winners in today’s round despite the headlines for the FN.
Of the original 36,700 municipalities in France 6,455 will be voting for a second time today, the others successfully completed their voting in the first round. Of those remaining the FN has a chance in about half of the 330 it is contesting. The Socialists have withdrawn from contests where they cannot win and encouraged their supporters to vote for the non-FN candidate; the UMP has not withdrawn their candidates in three ways contests.