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France's Far-Right National Front Is Routed In Regional Elections

  • RFE/RL

France - Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for the National Front in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region, reacts after results in the second-round the regional elections are announced in Henin-Beaumont, Fran

France - Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for the National Front in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region, reacts after results in the second-round the regional elections are announced in Henin-Beaumont, Fran

French exit polls predicted that the far-right National Front party would not win a single race in regional elections, a stunning blow to the party whose popularity many predicted would surge in the wake of immigration concerns and last month’s Paris terror attacks.

Party leader Marine le Pen and her allies came out on top in half of France's 13 newly drawn regions in the first round of voting one week ago.

But projections by France's major polling firms suggested the party lost in all of the regions December 13, including losses for both Le Pen and her popular niece.

Le Pen pledged to keep fighting to expand her party’s support and said in the coming weeks she would "rally all the French, of all origins, who want to join us."

"Nothing will stop us," she said.

Experts said the loss was also due to a tactical decision by the Socialist Party, which decided to pull out of races in northern and southeastern France and urge their supporters to support conservative candidates from a center-right alliance in order to prevent far-right victories.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that the far right remained a danger and urged his country to rally together against extremism.

"France in moments of truth has always taken refuge in its real values," Valls was quoted as saying.

Partial results from the Interior Ministry showed conservative Republicans -- the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy -- in the lead in six regions, and the Socialists in five.

The results were based on the count of between 71 percent and 100 percent of the votes in each region.

Final results are expected later on December 14.

In recent years, the National Front has racked up political victories in local elections, but winning control of any region would have been an unprecedented boost for the party ahead of presidential elections in 2017.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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