French FN Routed In Key Vote

FN party leaders have consistently linked terrorism with immigration.

With most votes counted, candidates from centre-right parties including the Republicans of former President Nicolas Sarkozy were expected to win in eight of France's 13 mainland regions, including ones where Le Pen and her niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, were candidates.

Parties that get more than 10% of the vote are eligible to participate in the second round of voting.

Le Pen and her niece enjoyed a strong lead in races they are running in northern France and the region that includes Provence and the French Riviera.

But early results from the second round on Sunday had the governing Socialists winning four to five regions, with the mainstream conservative Republicans perhaps taking the rest, including Paris.

The right-wing National Front party will not control any regions in France.

Her Islamophobic outfit failed to take a single region despite leading in first round polls a week ago in six of the 13 newly drawn regions.

"The danger of the far-right has not been removed, far from it", he said.

Experts say this will give Le Pen and FN a "huge springboard" going into the 2017 presidential elections.

The National Front has racked up political victories in local elections in recent years, but winning control of any region would have been an unprecedented boost for the party- and especially for Le Pen's hopes for the presidency in 2017.

In those areas, in the deindustrializing, high-unemployment north and in a south full of those who still regret the loss of French Algeria, the third-finishing Socialist Party pulled out of the race, letting the mainstream right party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy win.

"We need to immediately put in place the real reforms that this country needs", Bertrand, a former labor minister, said in a televised address.

There were two main reasons for the results: 1) the pullout of the socialists who would have split the anti-National Front vote and given Le Pen a decisive victory and 2) ginned up media hysteria over fears of "fascism".

She hailed the "total eradication" of Socialist Party representation in the southeast and the northern regions that the tactical vote produced, and condemned the concerted campaigns against her as "defamation decided in gilded palaces".

"We now have to take the time for in-depth debates about what worries the French - who expect strong and precise answers - and which we are responsible for". But the anti-immigration, anti-European National Front party still gained hundreds of regional councilors across the nation, tripling its presence in regional councils.

Marine Le Pen delivers a speech after results in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region for the second-round regional elections in Henin-Beaumont, France. In fact, the National Front won a almost identical share in the second round as the first.

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