Some 6.82 million people backed the FN—almost one in six eligible voters.
It came first in swathes of constituencies in every region.
The FN led the first round in six of France’s 13 regional councils. But a surge in turnout in the second round blocked the FN from winning the presidency of any regional councils.
This mostly benefitted Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre right alliance. It won seven regions including its strategic target Paris region.
The centre left around president Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party (PS) was also boosted, keeping five regions after being predicted to lose all but two.
The surge underlines a widespread and persistent hatred of the fascists. But the FN has cemented its place as the driving force in French politics.
It gained over 350 regional councillors and became the main opposition in four regions. And it set the agenda for mainstream parties.
In the north and south east, the Socialists ordered all their candidates to step down.
These regions, previously run by the centre left, now have only fascist and Tory councillors.
Yet in the east Socialist candidate Jean-Pierre Masseret refused to step down. Predictions that this would let in the FN proved wrong and he increased his vote.
Sarkozy pledged to begin a debate on the right after leading Tories attacked him for not cooperating with the PS. This reinforces calls for a grand coalition in 2017’s presidential election.
Left wing opposition parties in many regions merged their lists with the Socialists against the right.
But the main parties are responsible for the FN’s growth.
Rallying to them vindicates its attempts to pose as the only alternative to a hated political establishment.
And it risks further demobilising a diverse working class under attack from those very politicians.
Better—if sporadic—responses came from anti-fascists who covered FN offices with their posters, and college students who walked out and struck in Rouen.