According to exit polls, Macron’s La République en Marche won 10.9% of the vote, and the right-wing National Rally led by Le Pen won 19.1% – less than expected. The right-wing party Les Republicans fared better and won 29.3% of the vote.
The unprecedentedly high rate – 68% – of the population did not vote. This is the highest abstinence rate under the Fifth Republic.
The second round of regional elections will be held on June 27.
Regional elections are being closely monitored for voter preferences ahead of next year’s presidential election. However, given the low turnout, political experts say it is difficult to draw conclusions at this stage.
On Monday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmainin described the results as a failure, although he said it was too soon to draw conclusions for the 2022 presidential election, Reuters reported.
“Democracy sometimes means losing elections. The presidential majority faced a significant impediment … We should not draw quick conclusions about presidential elections,” he told France 2 television, Reuters reported.
Darmanin also said Sunday’s record low turnout was “a defeat for all of us” because “the expulsion is a message. The French people are telling politicians they don’t trust them.”
“No one can be happier when over 70% of young people have an increase of over 80%,” he said.