THE RIGHT has won a victory at the departmental elections, with 28 departments swinging away from the left.
That leaves the left – the ruling Socialists and allies like the Parti Radical de Gauche – with just 34 departments instead of 61, and the alliance of Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP and the centre-right UDI with 67, up from 40.
The Front National improved its number of council seats but did not win control of any departments.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted the results represented “a clear decline” for the left and called it a “lasting upheaval of the political landscape”, while UMP leader Nicolas Sarkozy hailed them “a historic success for the right”.
This brings the number of right-wing councils to a level not seen since the 1990s and is the fourth successive electoral failure for the left, after the European, municipal and senatorial elections.
The elections saw a number of symbolic losses for the left, including Corrèze, the former stronghold of President François Hollande where he was an MP and the council president. They also lost Essonne, where Mr Valls was an MP.
Just one department – Lozère in the north of Languedoc-Roussillon – went from right to left.
About half of eligible voters took part.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen claimed the results to be a “magnificent victory” for her party, despite her failure to win control of any departments, noting “a strong increase in our scores” generally.
They had won 40-45% of the vote in certain departments, she said. “We have done very well in very varied territories – we’ll see the full importance of that at the regional elections,” she told Le Monde.
Connexion will be analysing the results further with the help of experts in our April edition, on sale and with subscribers later this week.