Initial exit polls suggest Front National leader Marine Le Pen has had a disappointing first round in the French regional elections.
Prior to the election, polls suggested her anti-immigration, anti-euro party would do well, in the light of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France.
However, the Front National seems to be lagging behind in third place, with a predicted 25 percent of the vote, potentially scuppering Le Pen’s run for the French presidency in 2017.
On the contrary, Manuel Valls, France’s Socialist Prime Minister, seemed pleased with the result.
“Although it has too many votes, this evening the extreme right is not the top political party in France,” he said. “I congratulate myself because I personally committed to making this happen.”
President François Hollande’s Socialist Party seems likely to come out second, with around 25 percent of the vote.
While polls suggest former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party are leading on 35 percent.
Valls said voter turnout was higher than expected. However, with just one in two people casting their vote, Sarkozy called for greater turnout in the second round.
“I call on all French people wanting change to mobilise themselves for the second round of elections to strengthen the dynamic recorded this evening,” he said.
The leaders will spend the week negotiating with their allies ahead of next Sunday’s second round (March 29). Only the leading parties will be in the running for votes with the aim of obtaining an absolute majority.