The fascist National Rally (RN) won the position of mayor of Perpignan in the second round of municipal elections in France on Sunday.
It is the first time since 1995 that the Nazis have taken control of a city of over 100,000 people.
In general the RN lost ground compared to similar elections last time, and its candidate in Perpignan played down his party membership.
But it is still a boost for party leader Marine Le Pen as she prepares her run for the 2022 presidential election.
It means the RN will seek to implement attacks on Muslims and migrants across a city. Mass resistance from the start will be important.
The tactic of all the other parties in Perpignan withdrawing after the first round and urging support for the traditional right wing candidate was a total failure.
This “Republican front” just enabled the RN to scoop up many of those who are bitter at the present set-up.
Overall the elections saw mass abstention with just four in ten people voting. That’s down from 62 percent in the similar elections in 2014. Partly that is due to coronavirus.
But it’s also about widespread disillusion with all the political forces on offer. The neoliberal LREM party of president Emmanuel Macron failed to capture any major cities and gathered just 13 percent of the votes in Paris.
This has prompted talks of a major governmental reshuffle. Sibeth Ndiaye, government spokesperson, admitted there had been “some very disappointing scores”.
The biggest winner was the Europe Ecology—the green party. Together with leftist allies it took a clutch of major cities including Lyon, Strasbourg and Bordeaux and may take Marseille.
It also won in smaller cities such as Grenoble, Poitiers, Annecy, and Tours. Polls before the vote sowed that “environmental protection” was the number one concern in the 18-34 age group.
In a positive development, the anticapitalist Bordeaux in Struggle list, headed by Philippe Poutou, won nearly 9.5 percent of the vote in Bordeaux. Poutou was the 2017 presidential candidate for the socialist NPA party.
Bordeaux in Struggle won three councillors.
The crucial battles in France will not be fought in elections.
The Yellow Vest movement, the strikes against Macron’s assault on pensions and the mass Black Lives Matter movement have shown the potential power of street and workplace mobilisations.
On Tuesday this week health workers and their supporters held a second day of protests and strikes demanding better pay, an end to closures and more health funding.
Such mobilisations show the way forward.