In the second and final wave of French départementales elections on Sunday, Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP has come out triumphant with 67 of the country’s councils.
This is hardly surprising given the widespread unpopularity with the governing socialists. The governing party lost nearly half of its councils, including President Francois Hollande’s home department of Corrèze. Sarkozy said “French voters have massively rejected the policies of Francois Hollande and his government,” in yet another victory speech that is unlikely to be his last.
In addition to the UMP’s right-wing supporters, they were also propped up by socialists deciding on the ‘lesser evil’ between Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front. Despite placing second in the first round of voting, the FN failed to win a single council in Sunday’s vote. Nonetheless, the party was able to claim 60 individual seats across the country, leading Le Pen to call the elections “a magnificent success.”
The rising popularity of the anti-immigration and anti-EU FN has become worrisome in recent months, especially following their win in European elections last year. It is now increasingly likely that Le Pen could make it to the second round of voting in 2017’s presidential election.
Though if Sunday’s results are any indication, that’s as far as she’ll ever get.