France’s Socialists pull candidate to avoid far-right run-off victory


France’s governing Socialist Party (PS) has announced the withdrawal of a further candidate in regional elections in an attempt to block a run-off victory for the far-right party National Front (FN), RTL radio reported on Monday.

The Socialist candidate in the north-eastern region of Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine will withdraw from the second round of voting to give the Republicans a better chance of victory in a run-off on Sunday, PS leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis told the radio station.

The news comes after Marine Le Pen’s far-right party won about 28 per cent of ballots during the first round of voting Sunday, with the centre-right Republicans led by Nicolas Sarkozy and the governing PS trailing behind with 27 and 23.5 per cent respectively.

After Le Pen’s definitive victory on Sunday – which is widely attributed to a swing to the right in the wake of the November terrorist attacks in Paris – the Socialists held a series of tactical meetings with their centre-right competitors.

The party announced late on Sunday that two other candidates – one from a northern and one from a southern region where FN enjoys decisive leads in the polls – would withdraw to avoid a run-off victory for FN.