French far right loses key regional elections

A slew of far-right candidates lost in France's regional elections on Sunday, dealing a heavy blow to the party's ambitions of winning control in a region and dampening presidential aspirations for next year's election.

The Associated Press reports that the far-right National Rally party only won 20 percent of votes nationally, reflecting a general dislike of the party that is still prevalent in France's population.

None of France's 12 regions changed parties on Sunday, with mainstream political parties holding onto their respective regions. The AP notes that voters and politicians alike appeared to celebrate the collective effort to stop the far-right party from gaining power.

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Right-wing politician Xavier Bertrand celebrated that the far-right National Rally had not only been "stopped," but “we made it retreat greatly.”

Fellow right-wing lawmaker Laurent Wauquiez proclaimed that the far-right had been left “no room to prosper” in his region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Voters may have been put off by the racist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigration image that the National Rally, formerly named the National Front, has failed to shake off despite efforts.

The AP notes that voter turnout was low this year with only a third of voters casting a ballot, which may have also damaged the far-right's chances of securing a win. Polls had suggested that the National Rally had some momentum, but the results showed otherwise.

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen acknowledged that her party had failed to secure any victories and said she would be looking forward to the presidential election next year, the AP reports, opining that the next election “appears more than ever to be the election that allows for changes of politics and politicians.”