French regional elections 2021: far right flops, Right does well and Left hangs on amid voter apathy

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The first round of France's regional and département or county elections took place on Sunday June 20th and one of the major stories of the day was the record level of abstention, with nearly two out of three voters staying home. A year before the presidential election another key outcome was the poor showing of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN), led by Marine Le Pen, which despite doing well in opinion polls only came top in one region. Elsewhere the biggest winners of the night were the conservative Right, while the vote for the Left and the Greens held up better than many had predicted.  Perhaps the biggest loser of the night was Emmanuel Macron's ruling La République en Marche party which failed even to come second in any region. The second and final round of voting takes place on Sunday June 27th. Mathilde Goanec, Ellen Salvi, Lucie Delaporte, Ilyes Ramdani and Pauline Graulle report.

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It was a brutal setback. Despite an election campaign that was dominated by law and order issues and after  months of public debate on themes favouring the far right, Rassemblement National (RN), led by Marine Le Pen, performed poorly in the first round of France's regional elections on Sunday 20th June 2021. It topped the voting in just one French region, Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur (PACA) in the south. Yet in the first round of the same elections in 2015 it  led in six regions: PACA, Hauts-de-France, Grand Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Centre-Val de Loire and Occitanie.