French voters leave regional elections in lurch
EUROPE

French voters leave regional elections in lurch

Record abstention continues in 2nd round, far-right Le Pen fails to win single region

News Service AA

French voters continued to shun the regional elections as the second round of voting concluded on Sunday with yet another record abstention.

The development meant that the majority of the incumbent regional presidents held on to their seats and the far-right opposition party National Rally of Marine Le Pen failed to win even a single region. All political parties panned the results.

As per the data from the Interior Ministry, turnout was only 27.89% as of 5 p.m., marking a slight increase (26.72%) from the first round on June 20.

At noon, the turnout was a dismal 12.66%. Projections from polling and media organizations estimate an abstention rate for the second round of up to 65%.

In the first round, the official abstention figure was 66.74%. Overall, the 2021 regional elections, which are held every six years, have recorded the highest abstention rate ever.

While the timing to cast the ballots is till 8 p.m., many polling stations closed at 6 p.m. due to low voter turnout, local broadcaster BFMTV reported.

President Emmanuel Macron had called the debacle of low turnout "a democratic alert" and several politicians had appealed to the French people to come out and perform their democratic duty in the second round.

The first exit polls predicted that many of the outgoing regional presidents will continue to hold on to their seats.

Marine Le Pen, who was cited to mark her first win in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (PACA) region, conceded defeat of her far-right National Rally at a press conference.

She blamed "a disastrous organization of the ballot" and indicated "deep crisis of local democracy."

Stanislas Guerini, executive officer of Macron's La Republique en Marche party, told BFMTV that voters responded responsibly in keeping Le Pen's party out of votes, however he described the results as a "disappointment for the presidential majority."

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