France Splintering Influence

In chaotic regional elections, voters reject the entire Establishment and give new power to Le Pen's anti-foreign, anti-immigrant nationalists

Since Charles de Gaulle founded the Fifth Republic in 1958 and cut short 14 years of political chaos, France has been a model of governmental stability. But last week brought back a strong whiff of the Fourth Republic atmosphere of clashing factions and evanescent coalitions. In elections for 22 regional councils throughout the country, voters dealt a stiff blow to the entire political establishment and catapulted fringe movements and personalities into new prominence; in many councils they will cast the deciding votes. The balloting has no direct effect on the national government; France is a highly centralized country in which the...

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