Tactical voting to stymie France's Front National

France’s Front National is preparing a last push for regional election votes as an opinion poll showed tactical voting will keep it from power in two main target regions even though it topped a first-round vote nationally.
Tactical voting to stymie France's Front National

Marine Le Pen’s anti- Europe, anti-immigrant party scored record gains in the first round, driven by fears over the IS attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last month

In a TV interview ahead of a rally in Paris of the party faithful later in the day and Sunday’s decisive second round vote, the far-right party’s leader Le Pen was upbeat over prospects of victory.

“I hope to be elected. A good portion of the key to the result is in the hands of those who abstained,” Le Pen told BFM TV. “We will show what we are able to do.”

In the December 6 first round, the Front National won more than 40% of the vote in the north, where Le Pen is standing, and victory on Sunday would boost her profile ahead of presidential elections in 2017.

It won by a similar margin in the south-east, where her niece Marion Marechal- Le Pen leads the party list.

Fears over immigration, the IS attacks in Paris, disaffection with mainstream politics, and frustration at high unemployment were among factors driving the party’s best-ever performance.

Since the first round, however, the third-placed Socialist Party has pulled out of the race in both those key regions, urging its supporters to back Nicolas Sarkozy’s Republicans to keep the Front National out of power. A poll showed voters heeding that call.

In the northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, Le Pen would win 47% of the vote while Xavier Bertrand, a former minister with the conservative Republicans, would get 53%, the TNS Sofres-OnePoint poll showed.

In the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region, Marechal-Le Pen would get 46% against 54% for Christian Estrosi, the conservative mayor of the Riviera city of Nice.

The poll found that 775 of left-wing voters in the two regions planned on voting for the conservatives with only 14% expected to abstain.

The poll for newspaper Le Figaro and television channel LCI was conducted online. The poll did not consider other regions.

However, another of the six-out-of-13 regions where the Front National topped the first round was Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine in the east where it won 36% of the vote.

There, Socialist lead candidate Jean-Pierre Masseret is resisting the party’s call to step down, making the outcome of the three-way vote uncertain.

The first round poll put the Socialists ahead in only two regions and Sarkozy’s Republicans ahead in four.

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