Regional elections in France: Seeking explanations

Europe's press is grappling with the second round of the regional elections in France. The turnout was once again very low at about 34 percent. Marine Le Pen's right-wing nationalist Rassemblement National did not prevail in any region, while Macron's LREM party was in single digits. The conservatives are considered the winners. What does this mean for next year's presidential elections?

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Warning shot for Macron

The president should be seriously concerned about whether he will be re-elected, says Gregor Waschinski, Handelsblatt's Paris correspondent:

“Macron is a president without a base. Founded only in 2016, his coalition is not firmly rooted across the country, and the lack of ties to the party makes his voter base more volatile. Macron had a strong focus on a potential repeat of the duel with Le Pen and speculated that he would assemble a majority as a barrier against the right-wing populists. The bourgeois-conservative camp, which came out on top in the regional elections, could now challenge him in that role.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

LREM needs a new strategy

De Volkskrant says that LREM really has to come up with new ideas:

“Five years after its founding, LREM still hasn't taken root at the local level. The party already had meagre results in last year's municipal elections. This new defeat raises the question of whether LREM has a future. ... In the run-up to the upcoming presidential election, discussions are ongoing within LREM about whether the party needs to merge with a broader movement. For example through closer cooperation with parties that currently support the president, such as the centrist Mouvement Démocrate.”

Le Temps (CH) /

The conservatives are seen as the reliable option

Macron and Le Pen miscalculated, comments Le Temps:

“The French regional elections did not trigger a political earthquake. On the contrary, in light of massive abstention, they confirm a reality that numerous surveys have been reflecting for years: the majority of the electorate leans towards the traditional right for lack of any alternatives they consider credible among the radicals, the social democrats and the greens. ... However, the surprise - if there is one - lies in the fact that the attempt by Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to pressure conservative voters from both sides in order to gain their votes failed.”

Marianne (FR) /

Abstention makes prognoses impossible

The conservatives should not be complacent, Marianne warns:

“The conservative right is back and has good chances in the presidential election! Not so fast. To be sure, the three major winners on the right received handsome results, as expected. ... However, taking account of the number of registered voters the numbers are far less impressive. For example, Valérie Pécresse was re-elected by 14.87 percent of her electorate, Xavier Bertrand by 16.76 percent and Laurent Wauquiez by 17.78 percent. Macron's challengers did rather poorly. The massive abstention on 20 and 27 June (more than 66 percent) makes it impossible to draw direct political conclusions from this election.”