Tuesday 20 March 2018

Hollande's Socialists push ahead

French President Francois Hollande
French President Francois Hollande

John Lichfield in Paris

THE French far-right leader Marine Le Pen failed to win a parliamentary seat in the Pas de Calais last night on a day of triumph for President Francois Hollande's Socialists.

However, early estimates in the parliamentary elections suggested that two other National Front candidates could enter the National Assembly for the first time since the mid-1980s. Ms Le Pen's niece Marion MarEchal-Le Pen (22) was narrowly ahead in Carpentras and could become the youngest MP in French history.

Overall, Mr Hollande's party won a decisive victory in the second round of the elections and will have a clear majority to pursue his policy of "growth with discipline". His former partner, the 2007 presidential candidate Segulene Royal, lost her so-called "tweetgate" battle against a renegade Socialist in La Rochelle.

Estimates suggested the Socialists would win 314 seats -- substantially more than the 289 they need to secure one-party control of the lower house of parliament. With about 20 Green candidates also expected to win seats, Mr Hollande and his Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, should have an overwhelming majority in the 577-seat assembly for five years.

Since a Hollande majority was almost assured after the first round of voting last weekend, the suspense of France's fourth election night in two months focused on high-profile races around the country.

The xenophobic and anti-European National Front had hoped to break into the assembly for the first time since 1986, with victory for its leader in Henin-Beaumont in the Pas de Calais. Early counting suggested Marine Le Pen had lost but that NF candidates were neck and neck or narrowly ahead in at least two other seats in the south.

One seat will be hailed by Ms Le Pen as vindicating her policy of "de-demonising" the NF by excluding overtly racist supporters and language. Manoeuvring between the rounds breached the barrier between far right and centre right -- offering encouragement to her plans to redraw the map of French party politics.

Ms Royal failed to save her national political career in a two-way fight with a rebel Socialist candidate in La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast. This race was promoted to the status of a global political soap opera last week by a "tweet" from the First Lady, ValErie Trierweiler, backing the rebel candidate, Olivier Falorni. Ms Royal is the mother of Mr Hollande's four children. She was supplanted in his affections by Ms Trierweiler five years ago.(© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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