Normandy villages turn to far right after D-day commemorations

The Rassemblement National won every Normandy department for the first time ever in the recent European elections 

Utah beach and Rassemblement National leader Jordan Bardella
Utah beach and RN leader Jordan Bardella
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Soon after celebrating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, some Normandy towns that were among the first liberated by Allied soldiers 80 years ago voted overwhelmingly for the far-right. 

It was part of a wider success for the far-right party in the region, where it won 35.34% of the vote, coming in the top spot in all five departments for the first time ever.

“It’s true that having just honoured the veterans who liberated us, it disappointed some people,” Patrick Gomont, the independent mayor of Bayeaux, told France 3

In Bayeux, home of the Bayeux War Cemetery, the largest World War Two cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France, the RN won a 26.67% share of the vote in the European elections. 

“I think we have seen discontent growing for some time, even before the election, with rising energy prices, insecurity (and) pension reform,” Mayor Gomont said. 

Another town with strong links to D-Day is Carentan-Les-Marais, where the RN achieved 35.35% of the vote. 

“I was surprised and saddened,” mayor Jean-Pierre Delpont, of the Divers Droite, told France 3

He put some of the blame on social media and news channels. “We are in an anxiety-provoking climate that is frightening. Many people only get their information through these channels.”

In Sainte-Mère-Église, one of the first towns liberated in the D-Day landings by US troops, the RN achieved 38.98% of the vote. 

Why did Normandy vote for the RN?

Many towns where the RN did well in the European elections have always leant to the political right. 

Even in the 2019 European elections, the RN finished in first place in all but one of the region’s five departments. 

“These are areas anchored to the right, which has always resulted in classic right-wing votes,” political scientist Christophe Boutin told France 3

He said the RN is “far from being a Nazi party”, adding many people, particularly in rural France, feel “disappointed” by President Macron and want to turn to a new party. 

Read more: PHOTOS: 48 American veterans land in France for D-Day commemorations

The RN has also made efforts to become more palatable to voters, especially compared to the days when it was known as the National Front and under the leadership of Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie. 

“When it was Jean-Marie Le Pen, I couldn’t stand it at all. I thought he made extremely inappropriate comments, whereas now with Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella, I think what they are proposing is sensible, so why not try,” Maryse, a receptionist in Carentan-Les-Marais, told France Bleu