The polls were accurate. The FN has come in first in 6 of 13 regions. Nationally, it is now the leading party in France with 27.2% of the vote against 27.0% for Les Républicains (according to early estimates). The only surprise is that the "left bloc," if one can call it that, held up better than expected, with about 24% of the vote nationwide going to the PS and another 5 or 6 to EELV and Front de Gauche (which differ substantially from the PS on central issues). The participation rate was just over 50%, up 4 since the regionals of 2010.
As has been clear for some time, France's party system is now tripartite. It will be very interesting to see what left-wing voters do in the second round. In the Nord-PdC-Picardie region, where Marine Le Pen herself is heading the FN list, which garnered over 40% of the vote, the left-wing candidate has called implicitly for a "republican front" (without using the term). His words left little doubt that he will drop out of Round 2 in favor of Xavier Bertrand, who heads the Republican list. Bertrand's statement also avoided alluding to a republican front but simply claimed the right to lead the resistance to the FN as "the Gaullist" candidate. But Le Pen seems likely to win anyway, as does Marion Maréchal Le Pen in PACA.
I will have more to say in the coming day.s