Macron faces crushing defeat in local elections, exit polls show

PARIS — Mainstream left-wing and right-wing parties surged ahead in French regional elections Sunday, outpacing both Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, according to exit polls.

According to an exit poll by Elabe, left-wing parties obtained 34 percent of the vote, compared to 29 percent of the vote for the right and 19 percent for the National Rally. La République en Marche obtained 10.9 percent of the vote, and in some regions Macron’s candidates failed to make it across the threshold to run in the second round, the poll said.

It indicates voters have largely chosen to support the outgoing presidents of regional councils, who are mostly from the mainstream left and the right.

Ten months out from the 2022 French presidential election, the regional elections are seen as important bellwethers for the national mood as the country emerges from over a year in and out of coronavirus lockdowns.

In the northern region of Hauts-de-France, the conservative and presidential hopeful Xavier Bertrand obtained 41 percent of the votes, compared to 26 percent for the National Rally, according to an OpinionWay poll for CNews.

In a statement Sunday evening, Bertrand declared triumphantly that he had “broken the jaws” of the National Rally.

The OpinionWay exit poll also indicated that the candidates for La République en Marche got less than 10 percent of the vote. That signals a humiliating defeat for Macron, who dispatched five ministers to run in the region in an attempt to boost results.

If confirmed by the final tally, Sunday’s results will also be a disappointment for supporters of the far right’s National Rally. Le Pen was hoping to take at least one regional council — a victory that would lend her party much-needed credibility.

The race in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, where Le Pen was hoping for a clear win, appears tighter than expected. An exit poll from OpinionWay for CNews said that the National Rally’s candidate obtained 33 percent of the vote. This would put the far right’s Thierry Mariani ahead of the rightwing candidate Renaud Muselier, who is also backed by the LREM, at 30 percent. But another poll put Mariani and Muselier neck and neck.

The regional elections are taking place over two rounds, with candidates getting more than 10 percent of the votes facing off in a run-off round to be held June 27.

Following Sunday’s first-round vote, parties have until Tuesday morning to build alliances and register their lists of candidates for the second round.

In 2015, the left obtained 36 percent of the vote, ahead of the conservatives with 32 percent of the vote and the then National Front at 27 percent of the vote. La République en Marche had not yet been created.

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