French National Front party draws more votes from left than right


The National Front's strong showing in the French regional elections, leading all other parties with 28 percent of the vote nationwide, has been widely noted. Looking at the regional results, I notice that the two strongest regions for the FN (the French acronym), in which its candidates, both female members of the extended Le Pen family, received 41 percent of the votes, were about as far from being political twins as possible.

One was Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, the far north of France, a heavy industry area with the grim landscapes familiar to readers of Georges Simenon novels. In runoff elections between the left and right — the current names of the parties are Socialistes and Republicains — this region has given majorities to the left. The other heavily FN region was Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, the southeastern corner of France, which includes the Riviera and the yeasty port city of Marseilles. In runoff elections this region has given majorities to the right.

In both regions the Republicains finished a distant second, with about 25 percent of the vote and the Socialistes ran a poor third, with about 16 percent. I gather that the Socialistes will not campaign in the runoffs, so the Le Pens' side may lose if they cannot add to the initial totals. But the most interesting thing here in my view is that it appears that the FN, in both left and right regions, took more votes from the Socialistes, the party of President Francois Hollande, than from the Republicains. This is not what you would expect from the usual characterization of the FN as a right-wing party. But it seems to be drawing more votes from the working class than from the bourgeoisie.