Breton departmental elections: FN surge checked but mixed news for regionalists

So how did our Breton cousins vote in their local elections on Sunday? (For the context see here). Anyone seeking possible lessons for Cornwall can both take heart and be fearful. The good news for any progressive is that Breton voters by and large resisted the appeal of the far right Front National. Outside a few departments in the far south west of France and around Paris, the FN saw some of their lowest percentage votes in Brittany. That said, they still managed to poll higher in Brittany than in any previous election at any level.

Here’s the overall vote for the five historic Breton departments.

Brteon deptmtl vote 2015

Maybe the relative Breton resistance to the FN will inspire hopes for a similar resistance in Cornwall come May. Although Brittany doesn’t have anything resembling the Western Morning News working assiduously to promote the English version of the FN. But there’s a mixed bag of news for those seeking greater devolution and autonomy for Cornwall if we focus on the performance of Breton regionalist and nationalist parties. Here’s their results, with the last cantonal elections for comparison.

Breton parties’ performance at cantonal/departmental elections (independent binomials)

Party 2015 binomials 2015 mean vote 2011 candidates 2011 mean vote
Union Democratique Bretonne 21 3.69% 29 7.77%
Parti Breton 1 2.09% 10 2.79%
Nous te ferons Bretagne 11 10.66%

On the face of it, the UDB and PB performances were hardly encouraging. On the other hand both parties took advantage of the new binomial system to enter joint candidates in binomials with other groupings. As a result in Cotes d’Armor, three UDB candidates will be present in joint PS/UDB binomials through to the second round of voting. Two of them, at Paimpol and Plerin, have an outside chance of getting elected. Similarly, the PB is through to the second round as part of a deal with the Union of the Right in Rennes 3, but stands a very slim chance of success.

NTFB posterIt was better news for the regionalists grouped around Nous te ferons Bretagne. Christian Troadec and Corinne Nicole at Carhaix and Christian Derrien and Ghislaine Langlet at Gourin in Morbihan are through to the second ballot (in Gourin with the explicit support of the UDB). Both sets of candidates have an excellent chance of winning the second round next Sunday. Indeed, overall this regionalist coalition polled relatively well in the wards it contested. For instance, in Guidel in Morbihan, where it directly opposed the UDB, it scored nearly double the vote of the latter.

The UDB was no doubt adversely affected by the general swing away from the left (and the Greens who also did poorly). But this wasn’t inevitable. One minority nationalist leftist party did extremely well in the departmental elections. For this, we have to look south, to the Ipparalde (French Basque country). Here, the 12 binomials of Euskal Herria Bai (EH Bai) averaged 16.09% of the vote and five are through to the second round. EH Bai has now become the third electoral force in the French Basque lands. If we add in the average 3.45% won by the Partido Nacionalisto Vasco (PNV) in the four cantons it contested, we can see that the Basques remain in the vanguard of the struggle for further devolution in the French hexagon.
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