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.

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