French PM’s victory cigar proves a little premature

After hearing that the far-right National Front had not come out on top in Sunday’s local elections, French PM Manuel Valls is said to have sat back and smoked a cigar. However there’s more than one reason why Valls may have lit up prematurely.

Much has been made about how Marine Le Pen’s National Front failed to live up to expectations in the first round of the vote in France’s local elections on Sunday.

In the run-up to Sunday’s vote to elect representatives in France’s 101 “departements” , the FN (Front National), as the party is known in France, was expected to gain over 30 percent of the vote, according to polls.

But in the end an alliance led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy took first place in Sunday’s first-round polling with 29.4 percent of the vote, while the FN came second with 25.2 percent, according to latest figures from the interior ministry.

The Socialists trailed in third with an estimated 21.9 percent…

…Following the results there was much talk of the wheels having come off the Le Pen bandwagon, but portraying the outcome of the first round as a failure for the party leader is missing the point, and talk of Le Pen’s powers being on the wane is premature to say the least.

For a start, although figures show the centre-right UMP-UDI alliance picked up around 30 percent of the vote compared to 25.2 percent for the FN, if the results are analysed a different way then things look a lot rosier for Le Pen.

Figures from the Ministry of Interior reveal a more detailed breakdown party by party and when the centre-right alliance is broken up into individual parties like the UMP (Sarkozy), Union de la Droite and UDI, then the FN (National Front, Le Pen), which makes no political alliances, comes out on top after having polled 3,196,917 votes…