Le Pen link has right in chaos

THE right side of the French political spectrum was plunged into disarray yesterday. Leaders of the moderate right in five regions defied orders from their national headquarters and made tactical alliances with the ultra-right and xenophobic National Front to hold on to regional power.

All five, all members of the UDF centre-right grouping, including Charles Millon, the former defence minister, were immediately suspended by the national leadership. At least two other regional leaders of the Right are expected to accept the backing of Jean-Marie Le Pen's party in delayed votes in their regional assemblies on Monday. The head of one of the more right-wing components of the UDF, Alain Madelin, was said to have congratulated one leading rebel on his actions.

The worst-possible scenario - a U-turn by the national leadership of the traditional right, reversing its moral and strategic rejection of deals with the Front - appeared to have been avoided. There was another shaft of light in the moral gloom. A UDF leader in Franche-Comte resigned the regional presidency on a point of principle because the NF regional councillors had voted for him. Overall, however, the Gaullist RPR and the UDF were left in confusion. Although no Gaullist regional barons defied the party yesterday, at least two are expected to do so on Monday. A former RPR general-secretary, Jean-Francois Mancel, ejected by the party for demanding deals with the Front, predicted that the centre-right of French politics would "explode" next week, with elements of the UDF and Gaullists forming a new party and others joining the Front.

The Socialist former culture minister, Jack Lang, spoke of a "black day for the Republic ..." He accused the regional politicians who made deals with the Front of "reneging on promises to the people" and "slurping the vile soup offered by the ... neo-fascists".

The crisis on the right follows regional elections last Sunday which produced a confused electoral pattern all over France. The Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin's, left-of-centre coalition topped the poll in 11 out of 21 regions in France. But it won an outright majority in only one.

In at least nine regions, the National Front was left holding the balance of power. The national leadership of the "traditional", or respectable right, had pledged beforehand to make no deals with the Front and to accept minority left-wing regional governments if necessary.

Once the election results came in, local centre-right leaders all over France, desperate to cling on to regional power after their defeat in national elections last year, began to make secret or open deals with the NF. Despite warnings from the centre-right national leadership, and from Jacques Chirac, the Gaullist President of the Republic, there was widespread revolution when regional assemblies gathered to choose their presidents yesterday.

A breaking of the mould of right-wing politics in France is now possible, with dangerous implications for French democracy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect