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French conservatives top regional vote, but Socialists limit losses

Miguel Medina, AFP | Valérie Pécresse, pictured centre, won the crucial race in the Paris region as France's conservatives took control of 7 out of 13 regions.

French conservatives seized control of seven regions and the Socialists held on to five in a run-off vote on Sunday, as a strong turnout dashed the far-right National Front's hopes of winning its very first region.

  • Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative party, Les Républicains, won seven of mainland France’s 13 regions, including the key battleground of Ile-de-France, which includes Paris.
  • President François Hollande’s Socialist Party, which previously controlled all but one region, held on to five. France’s ruling party had withdrawn candidates in two regions and urged voters to rally behind conservative contenders in order to block the National Front.
  • Marine Le Pen's far-right party failed to win a single region despite coming first in six of them in last week’s first round.
  • Turnout was up by almost 10 percent (at 58 percent) compared with the first round. It rose sharply in areas where Le Pen’s party was strongest, suggesting many voters cast ballots to prevent the far right from winning.
  • Le Pen accused establishment parties of ganging up to keep her out of power, adding that nothing could stop the National Front’s “inexorable rise”. Her neice, candidate Marion Marechal-Le Pen, said  "there are some victories that shame the winners".
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