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Early exit polls indicated France's mainstream parties are set for a comfortable victory over far-right National Rally in the regional election runoff.© Christian Hartmann/REUTERS Macron's ruling party was not projected to win any of the regions
Early estimates pointed to a resounding defeat for France's far-right National Rally in the regional election runoff on Sunday.
According to the Ifop polling agency, the party behind Marine Le Pen managed to secure just over 20% of the national vote and has failed to win power in any of France's 13 regions.
At the same time, Emmanuel Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) was projected to remain in the single digits.
Observers say the regional vote could shift the balance between political heavyweights vying for a position in the 2022 presidential race.
Next year's election is expected to be a contest between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen, the former leader of the National Rally.
But last week's polls prompted cross-party concern over low turnout, with less than 34% of voters casting their ballot. On Sunday, the numbers were also low. By 5 p.m local time (15:00 UTC), turnout nationwide was 27.89%, according the country's interior ministry. Polls officially closed at 8 p. m. local time.
France was holding the runoff vote as the first round did not see any parties win over 50%. Only parties that garnered 10% of ballots advanced to that crucial second vote.
What is National Rally aiming for?
Many of the established parties, such as the Socialists and Greens, have struck pacts and electoral alliances in a bid to keep Le Pen's far-right party out of power.
The National Rally's best chance of winning a regional leadership was in France's Mediterranean southern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur (PACA). Thierry Mariani, a high-profile defector from the conservative Republicans party, is on the ballot.
The French MEP served as a minister under former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
But after the voting ended on Sunday evening, pollsters indicated even this region is likely to stay outside their grasp.
The final outcome of Sunday's second-round will decide the make-up of the assemblies for mainland France's 13 regions and 96 departments.
© Bob Edme/AP/picture alliance A poll cited by the French AFP news agency projected that just 36% of voters planned to cast their ballots on Sunday
What happened in the first round?
Last Sunday, the first round saw a defeat for President Emmanuel Macron's ruling party, the Republic on the Move (LREM), which is on course to win none of the 13 regions. It was also disappointing for far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Although several LREM ministers campaigned, the party did not gain the required 10% in some regions to make the runoffs.
Macron himself embarked on a nationwide tour that saw him slapped by an onlooker at one point.
Earlier opinion polls had projected Le Pen's party would come first in some regions, but it only came top in one — the southeastern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur.
© Alexandre Marchi/MAXPPP/dpa/picture alliance Marine Le Pen's party is seeking a win in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
After being decimated by Macron in the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, the traditional center-right conservatives, the Republicans, staged a surprise comeback in the first round.
The Republicans, who currently run seven of France's most populous regions, won the most overall votes.
The Socialists were also expected to pick up some regions as they are backed by the far-left France Unbowed party.
Who could be a presidential challenger?
Xavier Bertrand, a former health minister from the northern Hauts-de-France region, has emerged as the conservatives' favorite in opinion polls to become the party's face in the presidential election.
Macron's aides see Bertrand as a threat to the president's center-right voter base.
Two conservatives, Valerie Pecresse in the greater Paris region and Laurent Wauquiez in the greater Lyon area, could challenge Bertrand if they win Sunday's elections.
fb/dj (AFP, Reuters)
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-xl/news/other/france-far-right-candidates-suffer-loss-in-regional-vote-exit-polls/ar-AALuiG01269