FRANCE/FILE: French far-right celebrates as local elections branded "defeat for government" by Prime Minister AyraultRecord ID: 677748
- Title: FRANCE/FILE: French far-right celebrates as local elections branded "defeat for government" by Prime Minister Ayrault
- Date: 31st March 2014
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (MARCH 30, 2014) (REUTERS) VOTERS QUEUING TO VOTE BALLOT BOX CONTAINING VOTES WOMAN AND CHILD IN VOTING BOOTH VARIOUS OF WOMAN AND CHILD CASTING VOTE FRENCH PRIME MINISTER JEAN-MARC AYRAULT AT START OF NEWS CONFERENCE PHOTOGRAPHERS (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRIME MINISTER JEAN-MARC AYRAULT SAYING: "This vote as much at a local level as at a national one is a defeat for the government and for the majority. The record level of abstention in the first as in the second round is marked by the disaffection of a significant number of those who trusted us in May and June 2012."
- Reuters ID: LVA8O8WC3739A1PPIU3V0JZHDVDQ
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:00:49
- Topics: Politics
- Story Text: France's far right celebrates as provisional results indicate significant gains in municipal elections and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault brands his Socialist party's showing a "defeat".
France's National Front (FN) was celebrating on Sunday (March 30) with provisional results showing a record win for the far-right party in local elections as the ruling Socialists were hammered and talk of a government reshuffle grew.
Early indications were that the protectionist, anti-EU party of Marine Le Pen was set to take control of 11 towns across the country, easily surpassing a past record in the 1990s when it ruled in four.
At least another 140 towns were to swing from the left to the mainstream opposition UMP as voters punished French President Francois Hollande for his failure to turn around the euro zone's second largest economy and above all to tackle an unemployment rate stuck at more than 10 percent.
While Hollande himself, who surveys show is the least popular leader in France's 56-year-old Fifth Republic, will remain in power, the question is whether he will replace Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose government has been accused of amateurishness and of being paralysed by policy splits.
"This vote as much at a local level as at a national one is a defeat for the government and for the majority," Ayrault said on Sunday evening, saying he accepted his share of the responsibility.
Provisional results gave the National Front its 11 wins largely in the south of the country, which has a tradition of anti-immigrant feeling, but also in northern and eastern districts suffering from France's industrial decline.
The FN's victories included the towns of Beziers, Le Pontet, Frejus, Beaucaire, Le Luc, Camaret-sur-Aigues and Cogolin in the south, and Villers-Cotteret and Hayange in the north. It already made a breakthrough in last week's first round by winning power in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont.
"France is sickly and the back-and-forth between the UMP and the Socialists doesn't change anything. I think that more and more French people understand this message, and are trying to get out of the UMP/Socialist rut," Le Pen said as she welcomed the results.
Meanwhile, cheers rang out at UMP party headquarters in Paris as the party looked set to scoop 140 towns in a result its leader Jean-Francois Cope said was a message to Hollande.
"Today what matters is how President Hollande takes this message and how we will finally be able to change those politics which are completely disastrous for the country," he said.
In some consolation for Hollande, Socialists retained control of Paris city hall, with their candidate Anne Hidalgo due to become the first female mayor there.
But the Socialists were set to cede power in cities such as Toulouse, Angers and Quimper, while the conservative UMP saw off a challenge to its rule in the port of Marseille, although the Front National won in the city's seventh district.
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