PARIS (AP) â€” The latest approximately France's regional elections. All times local.
The National Front's No. 2 official, Florian Philippot, who lost in the race in the eastern Alsace region, said the results don't diminish the party's chances for the presidential election in 2017. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen has made the presidential vote her ultimate goal.
p>Philippot said that "we gained several hundred thousand votes" despite the loss in Sunday's final round of voting in regional elections.
"The dynamic is with us," he said.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed pride in his conservative party's electoral comeback in regional elections.
Sarkozy paid "homage" to the voters who turned out for Sunday's runoff elections after skipping the first round. The higher turnout may have played a role in keeping the far right National Front from winning any regional vote despite coming out on top in six of them in the first round.
"We are proud … of the results," he told supporters of his Republicans party Sunday night.
Sarkozy said his party should take heed, however, of the high support for the anti-immigration National Front.
While he said his party would "refuse all compromise with the extremes," he continued, "We must now take the time to debate the fundamentals of tremendous questions that are anguishing the French." He noted security concerns, frustration with European unity, & unemployment â€” all issues that the National Front's Marine Le Pen has used to rally support.
Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that the far right remains a "danger" in France despite a sharp electoral defeat, & urged the country to rally together against extremism.
Valls said the results in Sunday's runoff elections are "not a message of victory. The danger of the extreme right has not been set aside, far from it."
The anti-immigration National Front failed to win control of any regions in Sunday's second round, according to polling agency projections â€” despite dominating the first round.
Many voters on the left & right appeared to have rallied together to keep the party, whose founder has been repeatedly convicted of racism & anti-Semitism, from power.
"France in moments of truth has always taken refuge in its real values," Valls said, urging his compatriots to "build together" after a particularly bitter election campaign.
Far right leader Marine Le Pen has pledged to keep fighting to expand voter support for her National Front party, striking an upbeat tone despite a stinging defeat in regional elections.
Le Pen's National Front dominated the first round of voting Dec. 6 across the country, yet voters on the left & right appeared to band together to keep the anti-immigrant party from winning control of any region in Sunday's runoff.
Speaking as results came in, she said in the weeks ahead she will "rally all the French, of all origins, who want to take part with us."
"Nothing will stop us," she told cheering supporters in northern France, where she lost a bid to run the region that includes the migrant flashpoint of Calais.
She tried to put a positive spin on the loss, celebrating the party's increased number of seats on regional councils, saying they tripled from existing levels.
She celebrated the "total eradication" of the left, who had controlled all yet one of France's regions before this vote & were projected to lose several.
The French conservative who routed far right leader Marine Le Pen in a critical regional election thanked leftist voters for supporting him & keeping the anti-immigrant National Front from power.
Xavier Bertrand, a labor minister under former President Sarkozy, said after the results were announced, said "Here the French gave a lesson of rallying together, courage."
"Here we stopped the progression of the National Front," he said.
Le Pen's supporters booed Bertrand's remarks being shown on a huge screen at party offices.
Polling agencies projected that his Republicans party won approximately 57 percent of the vote in the Nord-Pas de Calais-Picardie region, more than doubling his score from the Dec. 6 first round.
Le Pen won approximately 42 percent in the runoff, & her party dominated voting nationwide in what Bertrand called a "thunderbolt."
Three polling agencies are projecting that anti-immigrant National Front has been routed in regional election runoffs despite dominating the first-round vote.
Party leader Marine Le Pen & her niece lost their bids to run two French regions in elections Sunday seen as an significant test for the anti-immigrant party.
Polling agencies Ipsos, Ifop, TNS-Sofres projected that the opposition conservatives & governing Socialists won control of France's 13 regions.
They showed Le Pen won around 42 percent of the vote in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, & rival conservative Xavier Bertrand approximately 57 percent.
Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, was projected to win approximately 45 percent in the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region. Conservative Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi was projected to win approximately 55 percent.
Source: “Associated Press”