The Greens candidate will withdraw from a runoff election in southeastern France, French media said Monday, sparking a duel between the far-right and the center-right – and making it harder for Marine Le Pen’s party to regain control of the region.
Le Pen hopes to win the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, which would give her a platform and momentum for the 2022 presidential election. But her candidate, Thierry Mariani, did less well than expected in the first round.
France’s mainstream parties have traditionally sided with the party best placed to keep the far right out of power in local and national elections, a strategy known as ‘front republicain’.
But on Sunday night, the green candidate in the southeast, Jean-Laurent Felizia, had refused to withdraw, leading to condemnation from large segments of the French political class.
There was no immediate comment from Felizia’s camp on reports that he was withdrawing, but he planned a press conference soon.
Le Pen’s ticket in Provence came in just ahead of the centre-right alliance led by incumbent Renaud Muselier in Sunday’s first round, a narrower margin than expected in what was her best chance of winning a region for the first time ever. to win.
A poll last week suggested the far right could still win Provence next Sunday, even if all parties rally behind the incumbent.
Le Pen has made a concerted effort to detoxify her party’s image and hollow out the votes of the mainstream right with a less incendiary brand of Eurosceptic, anti-immigration populist politics.
Meanwhile, left-wing candidates in the greater Paris region agreed to present a single ticket, taking on the incumbent centre-right candidate, Valerie Pecresse, as a possible conservative candidate to run in the 2022 presidential election.
President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party finished fifth in the first round of the regional vote — as bad as expected, amid discontent over crime, threats to jobs from globalization and a ruling elite seen as out of touch with ordinary citizens .