German Federal Election – end of Merkel era

Alice Weidel, co-leader of Germany’s anti-immigration party AfD

Results are being declared of today’s German election for the Bundestag (federal parliament). H&D‘s assistant editor Peter Rushton has been in Germany during the campaign and will report here and in the November issue of H&D on the results and their implications for the racial nationalist and broad pro-White movement in Europe. (click here to view detailed NPD results from this year’s election)

The German electoral system is a combination of constituencies (which elect members of the Bundestag on a similar basis to the UK Parliament, i.e. first-past-the-post) and a proportional ‘additional member’ system. This means that parties polling more than 5% nationwide are guaranteed Bundestag members.

The main outcome was a strong result for the social-democratic SPD, whose leader Olaf Scholz seems very likely to become Chancellor. Meanwhile the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) slightly slipped back from 12.6% in 2017 to 10.3% this year.

The constituency held for thirty years for the CDU by retiring Chancellor Angela Merkel was among those lost to the SPD, who won every directly elected seat in Merkel’s Mecklenburg region.

Despite its vote declining nationwide, AfD has gained numerous constituency seats across its strongholds of Saxony and Thuringia (regions of the old East Germany), though once the proportional element is allocated AfD ends up with 83 seats in the new Bundestag, down from 94 last time.

Of the sixteen constituencies in Saxony, AfD retained two, also regained the seat won four years ago by former leader Frauke Petry who had since quit the party, and gained another seven (from the collapsing CDU). This makes ten Saxon constituencies for the AfD, while just four were retained by CDU (including the two Dresden constituencies), one (Chemnitz) gained by SPD, and one (in southern Leipzig) retained by the Left Party.

AfD is now the largest party in Thuringia, with four of the eight directly elected Bundestag seats and 24% of the vote: a triumph for its regional leader Björn Höcke (above) who also leads AfD’s most explicitly nationalist faction

Of the eight constituencies in Thuringia four went to AfD, three for SPD, and just one for CDU. Moreover in a highly symbolic victory AfD took the largest vote share in Thuringia with 24%, ahead of SPD on 23.4% and CDU on 16.9%. This is all the more significant as AfD’s leader in Thuringia (Björn Höcke) heads the party’s most hardline nationalist faction.

Slightly to the north of Saxony and Thuringia, AfD gained two of the eight constituencies in the Saxony-Anhalt region. While it’s often assumed that the seats won by European racial nationalist parties are because of the proportional voting system, the fact is that today AfD has won sixteen seats in parts of the old East Germany under the “UK style” first-past-the-post system.

The CDU’s collapse means that in large parts of the old East Germany it will now be AfD that is the main voice of opposition to the likely new SPD-Green government. The great pity for AfD is that had they been able to continue concentrating on their popular policies on immigration and crime, these results could have been much better. It’s clear from today’s results that the party’s flirtation with Covid/vaccine conspiracy theory has been an electoral liability. Various candidates and parties focused entirely on anti-lockdown and/or anti-vaccine campaigning fared even worse, polling insignificant votes.

The big losers of this election seem to be both conservatives and the far left (with the ex-communist Left Party losing 30 seats, down to 39 in the new Bundestag): the big winners are Social-Democrats and Greens.

AfD polled 12.6% at the last federal election in 2017, winning 94 seats to become the third-largest party in the Bundestag, but their 10.3% vote this year left AfD in fifth place nationwide (overtaken by both the Greens and the liberal FDP).

More radical racial nationalist parties (of which by far the largest is the NPD) have been electorally eclipsed for the time being by AfD’s success and tend to concentrate more on local and regional elections where they stand a chance of winning seats. In the 2017 federal election the NPD polled just over 175,000 votes nationwide (0.4%). This fell to just under 65,000 votes (around 0.1%) this year.

The one certain result of this election is the retirement of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been in power since November 2005 (latterly leading a coalition government of conservatives and social democrats). Her successor as head of the conservative CDU/CSU – Armin Laschet – had a disastrous campaign and seems most unlikely to become Chancellor: his party polled a record low vote and will finish slightly behind the SPD. Merkel will remain in post until coalition talks have agreed a new government, probably involving three parties in the new Bundestag: the SPD, Greens and liberal ‘Free Democrats’ (FDP).

One consequence of this conservative disaster will be a bitter battle for control, with the more ‘right-wing’ leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party CSU – Markus Söder – likely to push his claim to lead the conservative alliance, and probably arguing that it should drop its traditional refusal to negotiate with the ‘far right’ AfD.

see also “Return of the Schleswig-Holstein Question!”

NPD results in detail – German nationalist vote shifts to AfD

NPD leader Frank Franz (above left) with his predecessor and former MEP Udo Voigt.

As expected the NPD – Germany’s main racial nationalist party – lost votes again this year to the civic nationalist anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

For the time being NPD activists and candidates will concentrate their efforts more on local and regional elections. The NPD’s best Bundestag vote was in 1969 when they polled 1.4 million votes (4.3%). In the 2004 and 2009 elections the NPD won seats in the regional parliament of Saxony, as they did in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2006 and 2011. In 2009 they were only a fraction short of winning regional parliamentary seats in Thuringia.

Even regional parliamentary gains are unlikely while AfD remains a powerful force, yet NPD campaigning remains important both to build a core of radical nationalist support, and to continue influencing the radical faction of the AfD, some of whose leaders have a great deal in common with the NPD even while most AfD leaders are closer to the right-wing of CDU/CSU.

At this year’s Bundestag election the NPD put up party lists in every part of Germany but not constituency candidates. Every German has two votes – one for an individual candidate, and a second vote for a regional party list. It is for these second votes that the NPD was competing.

In the two states where AfD was the largest party this year – Saxony and Thuringia – the NPD vote fell to 0.3%.

Thuringia NPD leader Thorsten Heise (above right) with Lady Michèle Renouf and fellow marchers at the 2020 Dresden Memorial.

The Thuringia NPD slate headed by Thorsten Heise polled 4,105 votes (0.3%), down from 1.2% in 2017. Bear in mind that AfD became the largest party in Thuringia this year, with a 0.6% lead over the SPD – so this AfD lead can be attributed to the transfer of previous NPD votes.

AfD was already narrowly the largest party in Saxony but consolidated its position this year with a 5.3% lead over the SPD (the conservative CDU having collapsed to third place). Here the Saxony NPD slate headed by Maik Müller polled 7,489 votes (0.3%), down from 1.1% in 2017. The smaller Dritte Weg party (Third Way – no connection to the NF splinter group once led by Patrick Harrington and Graham Williamson!) also stood in Saxony this year, taking 4,285 votes (0.2%).

In Mecklenburg – Western Pomerania (on the north-east border of today’s Federal Republic) the NPD vote didn’t fall quite so dramatically, perhaps because this region was less intensely targeted by AfD than Thuringia or Saxony. Here the NPD slate headed by Michael Andrejewski polled 6,399 votes (0.7%), down from 1.1% in 2017.

Michael Andrejewski, leader of the NPD in Mecklenburg – Western Pomerania, where the party achieved its highest vote share this year

These three remain the strongest racial nationalist areas of Germany. In remaining regional / city state results were as follows:

Brandenburg, the NPD slate headed by Klaus Beier polled 4,871 (0.3%), down from 0.9% in 2017

Saxony Anhalt, the NPD slate headed by Henry Lippold polled 3,003 votes (0.2%), down from 0.7% in 2017.

Saarland, the NPD slate headed by Otfried Best polled 1,375 votes (0.2%), down from 0.5% in 2017.

North Rhine-Westphalia, the NPD slate headed by Ariane Meise polled 8,959 votes (0.1%), down from 0.2% in 2017.

Baden-Württemberg, the NPD slate headed by Edda Schmidt polled 6,029 votes (0.1%), down from 0.3% in 2017.

Bavaria, the NPD slate headed by Sascha Roßmüller polled 5,768 votes (0.1%), down from 0.3% in 2017, with Third Way taking 3,545 votes (slightly under 0.1%).

Sascha Roßmüller, leader of the NPD slate in Bavaria

Hessen, the NPD slate headed by Stefan Jagsch polled 4,528 votes (0.1%), down from 0.3% in 2017.

Lower Saxony, the NPD slate headed by Manfred Dammann polled 4,374 votes (0.1%) down from 0.3% in 2017.

Rhineland Palatinate, the NPD slate headed by Udo Voigt polled 2,773 votes (0.1%), down from 0.3% in 2017.

Schleswig-Holstein, the NPD slate headed by Mark Proch polled 2,015 votes (0.1%), down from 0.2% in 2017

Berlin, the NPD slate headed by Andreas Käfer polled 1,979 votes (0.1%), having had no slate here in 2017.

Hamburg, the NPD slate headed by Lennart Schwarzbach polled 651 votes (0.1%), down from 0.2% in 2017.

Bremen, the NPD slate headed by Heinz Seeger polled 290 votes (0.1%), down from 0.3% in 2017.

Nationwide the NPD’s list votes totalled 64,608 (0.1%), down from 0.4% in 2017.

Return of the Schleswig-Holstein Question!

Stefan Seidler celebrates his election to the Bundestag

In addition to the main parties mentioned earlier, it looks as though just one tiny party will make it into the Bundestag.

This is the ‘South Schleswig Voters’ Association’ (SSW), whose leader Stefan Seidler has won a seat, according to the preliminary results. This is the first time since the second Bundestag election in 1953 that a regionalist or national minority party has won a Bundestag seat. In those days the national minorities concerned were Germans who had been expelled from their homes in what had become Czech, Polish or even Russian territory, and had their own party – the All-German Bloc/League of Expellees and Deprived of Rights.

By contrast the SSW represents a small Danish-speaking minority who have lived in Germany from the creation of a united German state in 1871.

Obviously they didn’t pass the 5% threshold – they are a tiny regional party – and neither did they win a constituency. This party hadn’t even contested a federal election since 1961.

Waldemar Kraft (above, front row, far right) as a member of Konrad Adenauer’s cabinet in 1953. Kraft was the last leader of a regionalist / national minority party to be elected to the Bundestag, until Stefan Seidler’s election this week. Kraft’s party represented German refugees from several regions that had been taken over postwar by Czechs, Poles or Russians, leading to the expulsion of 12-15 million Germans from their homes.

There are 28 MPs in total elected from Schleswig-Holstein this time, 11 constituencies and 17 from the list. The SSW list polled 3.2% across Schleswig-Holstein, so that was just enough to get them one of those 28 seats, because as a party representing a ‘national minority’ they are exempt from the 5% threshold requirement.

Ideologically they are leftish-green, so I assume their MP would back the likely SPD-Green-FDP coalition.

But the reason they exist is to represent the Danish speaking population in Schleswig-Holstein, and the reason that exists is rooted in one of the most complex diplomatic disputes of the 19th century – the infamous ‘Schleswig-Holstein Question’.

Until 1871 Germany was divided into many different states/principalities/etc. that were a relic of the medieval age and the Holy Roman Empire: a patchwork of princes, dukes and dynastic traditions.

For centuries the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein (either side of the Holy Roman Empire’s northern border) had both been ruled by the Danish king, but with semi-independence as the Holstein part was German (and part of the Holy Roman Empire) and the Schleswig part was semi-German, semi-Danish.

Eventually there were two mid-19th century wars between Denmark and Prussia, one (1848-51) effectively won by Denmark; the second (1864) won by Prussia and its Austrian allies.

Denmark’s defeat at the Battle of Dybbøl in 1864 led to Schleswig-Holstein’s absorption into the new German state in 1871.

After the First World War, Germany lost the northern part of Schleswig to Denmark, but the southern part of Schleswig has remained German to this day, and is part of the German region of Schleswig-Holstein.

As with all these border disputes, a substantial community was stuck on the wrong side of the border, and since there was no IRA-type situation many of them stayed put, hence the need for a party representing their particular interests.

The British statesman Lord Palmerston, who was Foreign Secretary during the First Schleswig War and Prime Minister during the Second, famously said:
“Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business – the Prince Consort [i.e. Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert], who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.”

More than 150 years later, the question has returned to contribute to the most divided German parliament since the Weimar Republic. But this time the Danes in Schleswig-Holstein are amongst the least troublesome of Germany’s ethnic minorities!

Disloyalty, greed and cowardice: rootless tycoons betray English football, then back down within 24 hours!

Len Blavatnik (above right) Jewish-Ukrainian tycoon and mastermind of the new ‘European Super League’ that threatens to destroy English football traditions

A tiny clique of globalist billionaires attempted to destroy the traditions of England’s national sport yesterday. Their attempted coup collapsed within hours, demonstrating that despite the apparent great power of the global greed machine, its controllers’ greed and disloyalty is equalled by their cowardice.

The so-called “big six” clubs of English football shocked the nation this week by announcing plans for a new “European Super League”.

This would have a disastrous effect on our national game, and no one with genuine roots in English life would ever contemplate such a plan.

As has rightly been mentioned even by ex-footballers of well-known leftwing sympathies such as Gary Neville and Gary Lineker, those behind the plan self-evidently have “no loyalty to this country” and no roots in our traditions and heritage.

A fans’ backlash, and the unprecedented response by a Conservative government threatening to “drop a legislative bomb” on capitalist conspirators, led to the six English clubs withdrawing from the scheme within 24 hours and desperately trying to cover their tracks. It is to be hoped that the billionaire cabal will still face punishment, and reforms to the structure of football ownership that will prevent any similar future plot.

Should we really be surprised?

Let us look at those involved,

The mastermind of the entire project is Sir Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-Jewish oligarch who was for many years a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The key men at the six English clubs involved include the following:

Roman Abramovich (above left) with former England captain David Beckham

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, a very controversial Russian-Israeli tycoon.

Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy and his business partner, Spurs owner Joe Lewis – an East End Jew, currency trader, tax exile, and close associate of George Soros.

Manchester United chairman Joel Glazer, part of an American-Jewish family who bought the club in 2005, with consequences viewed as disastrous by many United fans. (The Glazer family’s right-hand man Ed Woodward resigned as United’s vice-chairman as the ‘Super League’ began to collapse. Characteristically the club lied about the reasons for his resignation, pretending that Woodward’s departure had nothing to do with the Blavatnik conspiracy.)

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, Jewish-American television executive and since 2010 co-owner of Liverpool alongside the non-Jewish American tycoon John W. Henry.

American (non-Jewish) billionaire Stan Kroenke, owner of Arsenal. The former chief executive of Arsenal, South African born Ivan Gazidis, now at AC Milan, is another key player in the European Super League scheme.

Israel’s national security adviser greets his Abu Dhabi counterpart in September 2020, as part of the Trump-sponsored alliance between Israel and corrupt Arab rulers, some of whom control one of the clubs involved in the new ‘Super League’

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, a close confidant of Abu Dhabi crown prince and de facto United Arab Emirates ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. For the past decade the dictatorial royal families of the Emirates have been developing ever-closer relations with Israel, a process accelerated recently by Donald Trump and the gangster ruler of Saudi Arabia.

G.K. Chesterton knew all about such people, whom he described in his poem The Secret People, one verse of which almost prophesied the betrayal of English football.

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

But as Chesterton also foresaw, there remain “the people of England” who “have not spoken yet”.

H&D editor Mark Cotterill (centre) and friends supporting Chorley FC at AFC Telford United

At H&D we remain confident that the people of England will eventually speak; will eventually rebel against those new unhappy lords, those rootless cosmopolitans who have stolen our birth-right. H&D‘s editor and assistant editor are fortunate not to be directly involved with these megabucks ‘super’ clubs: we support grassroots football including the Lancashire clubs Chorley and Mossley!

(And we know that H&D‘s Jewish friends in the USA reject the values of supposedly ‘Jewish’ globalist tycoons, and also support locally-rooted football clubs!)

The establishment parties are more frightened than ever, following the ‘European Super League’ betrayal and are scrambling to pretend that they are on the side of the millions of ordinary English football fans who adamantly oppose this plan.

Yet the fact is that Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are co-creators of the rapacious, rootless global capitalist model that lies behind this disgrace.

The hitherto silent people of England will not forget this week’s events. They will not forget that the global greed machine brought English football to the brink of disaster.

We hope and believe that the collapse of the Blavatnik Plot is the beginning of the end for the internationalist cabal that distorted so much of European civilisation during the second half of the 20th century. Bring on the Great Reset, which racial nationalists should view as a promise, not a threat!

Setbacks for AfD in latest German elections

Jörg Meuthen of AfD, whose party lost ground in two important elections this weekend.

Regional elections in two areas of Germany yesterday resulted in setbacks for the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland – AfD).

For several years the party had seemed to be making steady advances in every area of Germany, especially after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in August 2015 to admit more than a million ‘asylum seekers’.

Yet the Covid pandemic seems to have knocked AfD off course. At the start of the crisis there was a tendency for conservative German voters to rally behind Merkel and her centrist-conservative CDU. In recent weeks that support has begun to crumble, partly because of a perception that the German government had bungled vaccine procurement, and partly because of a couple of scandals involving pandemic-related contracts.

Yet none of this swing against the government has benefited AfD, whose leaders allowed the party to become associated with anti-lockdown protests. This seems to have distracted from the party’s core messages: far fewer German voters are radically sceptical about Covid than are radically anti-immigration.

Nigel Farage with (above right) AfD’s deputy leader Beatrix von Storch

For the past year AfD has failed to poll above 12% in any national opinion poll, where previously it was often reaching 15% or more. This decline took concrete form in both of yesterday’s elections.

In Baden-Württemberg (traditionally conservative but ruled by a Green-CDU coalition since 2016), AfD’s vote fell from 15.1% to 9.7%, losing six of their seventeen seats in the regional parliament or Landtag. This result will embarrass AfD’s national co-leader Jörg Meuthen, since Baden-Württemberg is his home state.

Yesterday’s other election in Rhineland-Palatinate, best known as the centre of German wine production, saw another sharp fall in AfD’s vote from 12.6% to 8.3%, losing five of their nine seats.

AfD has been distracted and possibly damaged by association with anti-lockdown protests.

In both of these regions the ‘centre-right’ CDU and the ‘far right’ AfD lost support, and in both the Greens were the big winners. In neither case were there any more radical nationalist parties standing, which isn’t surprising since neither region is a traditional stronghold for the racial nationalist NPD or for any of the smaller parties of similar outlook.

The only good news from these elections is that German mainstream parties are still struggling for credibility. Chancellor Merkel retires this year, and the federal election in September is likely to lead to some sort of CDU-Green coalition, further damaging Merkel’s party in the eyes of traditional conservatives. It’s not too late for AfD to get back on track and for German nationalists to escape from the cul-de-sac of pandemic politics.

The spy story that helped derail Lady Renouf’s Dresden trial

Sir Frank Renouf (above left) with his close friend and colleague for many years, Hermann Abs, widely accused of financial ‘war crimes’

H&D‘s assistant editor Peter Rushton today reveals an extraordinary Second World War spy story – previously unknown to military and intelligence historians.

This story was one of the reasons for Dresden prosecutors’ abandonment of their prosecution of Lady Michèle Renouf three months ago. It had taken two and a half years for this prosecution to come to court.

Lady Renouf was charged with having committed ‘holocaust denial’ during an impromptu speech at a public commemoration in Dresden in 2018. Part of her ‘crime’ was to state that it had not been “exceptionally cruel” for Germany to intern Jews, given the fact that organised Jewry had declared war on Germany and that its representatives were closely involved in various forms of overt and covert warfare on the British (and later Soviet and American) side.

Lady Michèle and Sir Frank Renouf

H&D‘s Peter Rushton was a research consultant to the Renouf defence, and today he releases part of a dossier that would have caused great embarrassment to the German and British authorities had the case come to trial.

This reveals the existence of a previously unreported spy at the heart of the Third Reich – half-Jewish banker Robi Mendelssohn, partner in his family bank Mendlessohn & Co., the largest private bank in 1930s Germany.

Mendelssohn was an MI6 agent in wartime Berlin, meeting with British intelligence officers during his business trips to neutral Stockholm.

The case raises numerous previously unreported questions about the state of British intelligence regarding wartime Germany, including the so-called ‘Holocaust’.

Robi Mendelssohn: half-Jewish banker and MI6 spy in wartime Berlin

And it is of special relevance to the Renouf case because for complex reasons it turns out that MI6 spy Robi Mendelssohn was the man who convinced British occupation authorities to reinstal accused ‘war criminal’ Hermann Abs at the centre of reconstructing Germany’s postwar banking system.

Abs went on to be the closest colleague and friend of Lady Renouf’s former husband Sir Frank Renouf, who was awarded the Verdienstkreuz (Germany’s highest civilian honour) for his work with Abs in transforming German investment banking.

Click here to read today’s extraordinary story at the Renouf trial blog: modeltrial.blogspot.com

Further details will appear in the March edition of H&D.

Democracy dies in the nation that invented it

Golden Dawn supporters rally outside the Greek Parliament: the courts have now intervened to ban the party.

A Greek court has proscribed the nationalist party Golden Dawn as a ‘criminal organisation’. Six years ago Golden Dawn won more than half a million votes – 9.4% – and three MEPs in the European Parliamentary elections, but now it’s leader and founder Nikos Michaloliakos has been convicted of heading a criminal organisation, a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of ten years.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Greek Jews celebrated the court’s verdict and seem to think that ‘holocaust denial’ by Mr Michaloliakos and some other leading members of the party is akin to terrorism.

Golden Dawn’s electoral breakthrough was in 2012 when it gained 21 MPs in the Greek Parliament. After years of relentless pressure both from prosecutors and from ‘antifascist’ violence – including several bomb attacks on party offices and the murder of two Golden Dawn activists in November 2013, shot dead by leftwing terrorists near party offices in northern Athens – the last eighteen MPs were defeated in 2019.

However in the 2019 European elections last summer Golden Dawn still polled 4.9% and elected two MEPs. The now-banned party also still has many elected local councillors.

It remains unclear whether Greek ‘democracy’ can survive this assault by the courts.

Croatian Election Results: latest update

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is celebrating victory in this week’s elections.

This week’s Croatian elections have resulted in a big win for the ruling HDZ, once seen as a ‘nationalist’ party but now part of the centre-right European mainstream.

Click here for a full analysis by H&D‘s Croatian correspondent.

Le Pen’s RN wins control of Perpignan

Louis Aliot, RN winner in the Mediterranean city of Perpignan

For the first time since 2001, the main French nationalist and anti-immigration party has won control of a city with a population of more than 100,000. (click here for detailed results)

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) won Sunday’s second-round election in Perpignan, a city of 120,000 inhabitants on the Mediterranean coast, very close to the French border with Spain. Under its previous name National Front (FN) – led by Mme Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen – the party controlled the slightly larger city of Toulon from 1997 to 2001.

Today was the second round in local elections across France, long delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic since the first round in March.

French local elections are carried out over two rounds, with voters choosing among party lists: the head of the winning list becomes mayor. The 35,000 local councils involved range from tiny villages to enormous cities, three of which (Paris, Lyon and Marseille) are also broken down into districts known as arrondissements with their own councils.

In Perpignan the RN slate headed by Louis Aliot defeated an alliance of conservative parties in the second round. Various defeated leftist, centrist and green parties had been knocked out in the first round and tried to urge their voters to back the conservatives to block the ‘fascist’ RN.

The half-Jewish M. Aliot was a leading official of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s FN, and is a Vice-President of the RN under Marine Le Pen. He had been a regional councillor in the Pyrénées-Orientales département (whose capital is Perpignan) since 2010.

Ludovic Pajot (above right) 26-year-old newly elected RN mayor of Bruay-la-Buissière

In other early results, the FN retained control of the northern town of Hénin-Beaumont and gained nearby Bruay-la-Buissière. Both are former coal mining towns of about 25,000 inhabitants, and are part of the Pas de Calais region that has become the main power base for Marine Le Pen.H&D will report on the full results tomorrow and analyse the implications for Mme Le Pen’s chances of eventually taking power in France.

A more detailed H&D analysis of the French elections is online here

Meanwhile today also saw the first round of Poland’s presidential election, where the populist-conservative incumbent President Andrzej Duda has qualified for the second round run-off, with exit polls showing he has won 41.8% of the vote against the pro-EU, centre-right candidate Rafał Trzaskowski.

A so-called ‘far right’ presidential candidate Krzysztof Bosak seems to have polled just over 7%. He represented a coalition of right-wing parties, some of which are relatively pro-Moscow.

Mixed results for RN in French elections

For the 2020 local elections the anti-immigration RN headed by Marine Le Pen (above right) formed joint slates with the much smaller eurosceptic party headed by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (above left)

On Sunday 28th June French local government elections held their decisive second round, postponed for more than three months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

These elections were for more than 35,000 communes across France, ranging from tiny villages to giant cities. The three largest cities (Paris, Lyon and Marseilles) also elect councillors and mayors in their various districts known as arrondissements. There are also regional councils known as départements, but these departmental elections (once known as cantonal elections) are held separately from the communes – most recently in 2015, and next due in 2021.

Similarly the mayors and councillors in the communes are elected to six-year terms, so the positions elected on Sunday were last elected in 2014.

In those days Marine Le Pen’s party was called the Front National (National Front – FN); it was renamed Rassemblement National (National Rally – RN) in 2018.

Six years ago the FN won 1,438 councillors spread across 463 communes. After this week’s second round the RN’s councillor total was down to 840, spread across 258 communes.

Despite this patchy performance, one headline result was very positive news for Marine Le Pen. Louis Aliot (who was Mme Le Pen’s domestic partner for a decade until last year) is the new Mayor of Perpignan, after his RN slate won the second round with 53.1% against 46.9% for his conservative opponent.

This is the first time in almost twenty years that the RN or FN has controlled a city with a population of more than 100,000. From 1997 to 2001 the FN controlled Toulon, a slightly larger city further along the Mediterranean coast.

Steeve Briois (above left) was re-elected Mayor of the RN stronghold Hénin-Beaumont after the first round of local elections in March

Aside from Perpignan, the other communes won by the RN this year are relatively small towns. Six of these had already been won on the first round in March, by the RN polling more than 50%.

All of these were communes that the FN/RN had already controlled since 2014:

  • the Mediterranean port of Fréjus; first round RN vote 50.6%, population 52,672
  • the Avignon suburb of Le Pontet; first round RN vote 57.2%, population 17,530
  • Beaucaire, a small town in the Rhône Valley ten miles south-west of Avignon; first round RN vote 59.5%, population 15,963
  • Villers-Cotterêts, a small town fifty miles north of Paris; first round RN vote 53.5%, population 10,872
  • Hayange, an ancient iron manufacturing town in the Lorraine region close to the Franco-German border; first round RN vote 63.1%, population 15,811
  • Hénin-Beaumont, a former coal mining town in the Pas de Calais region of northern France, and now the strongest nationalist area of France – very much the heartland of Marine Le Pen’s brand of populist nationalism; first round RN vote 74.2%, population 26,022

The three communes gained by the RN after Sunday’s second round were:

  • Perpignan, a city on the Mediterranean coast, very close to the Franco-Spanish border; RN second round vote 53.1%, population 120,158
  • Moissac, a small town in the Occitania region of southern France; RN second round vote 62.5%, population 13,039
  • Bruay-la-Buissière, a former coal mining town in the Pas de Calais, close to the existing RN stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont; RN second round vote 52.0%, population 21,831.

The bigger picture of last Sunday’s elections was a historically unprecedented win for the French green party EELV who gained control of several important cities including Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Besançon.

Stéphane Ravier, previously Mayor of a Marseilles arrondissement, was one of the RN’s high-profile defeats in Sunday’s second round, beaten by a conservative slate by a very tight 51-49 margin.

A joint slate of Greens, Communists and Socialists became the largest party grouping in Marseille, winning 38.3% in the second round ahead of a conservative coalition on 30.8%, the RN on 20.3%, and assorted dissident leftist and dissident conservative slates making up the remaining 10.2%.

After negotiations later this week a Green mayor is likely to take power in Marseille. The bad news for Marine Le Pen’s RN is that by a very tight margin their candidate Stéphane Ravier lost the mayoralty of the 13th-14th arrondissement of Marseilles. Under the old FN label he had won the mayoralty of the old 7th arrondissement in 2014 and had controlled the new 13th-14th after boundary changes in 2017.

On the bright side, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party suffered numerous defeats across the country. Opinion polls still suggest that the most likely second round in the next presidential election in 2022 will be between Macron and Marine Le Pen – and that Macron would again win such a contest, though by a closer margin than in 2017.

However Macron’s authority is steadily dribbling away. The challenge for Marine Le Pen’s party will now be to make a success of running Perpignan, make further gains in next year’s regional elections; and achieve the difficult balance between reassuring ‘mainstream’ voters that the nationalist right can be trusted, without disillusioning traditional nationalists whose support is still required to provide an activist base.

The danger is that purging ‘hardliners’ leads to an exodus of local government candidates and other activists, without inspiring an influx of new blood. Floating voters are all very well, but any party also needs a solid base of committed supporters.

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