Marine Le Pen's party fails to win any of 12 regions while centrist ruling party of President Macron suffers another poll drubbing in second round of regional elections marked by a woeful turnout.
Mainstream candidates have delivered a stinging setback to France's far right in regional elections, thwarting its hopes of winning control of a region for the first time and slowing its momentum ahead of the presidential contest next year.
The Ifop polling agency estimated that the far right National Rally barely surpassed 20 percent of the vote nationally, trailing both the mainstream right and the combined weight of green and leftist candidates.
National Party leader Marine Le Pen quickly conceded that her party had failed to win any of mainland France's 12 regions. She immediately started looking forward to next year's presidential vote, but her party's showing on Sunday suggested that it remains anathema to many voters.
Painful blows to anti-immigration party
Most notably, polling agencies said the National Rally was roundly beaten in the southeast, in the region that had been seen as its best chance of securing a breakthrough victory in the balloting for regional councils.
As in previous national and local elections, voters appeared to have come together to prevent a National Rally breakthrough.
Mainstream candidates crowed that they had delivered painful blows to the anti-immigration party.
No region changed camps, with the mainstream right keeping the seven it had previously and the left still in control of the other five, according to polling agencies' projections.
On the mainstream right, Xavier Bertrand, crowed that the National Rally wasn't only "stopped" in his region, the Hauts-de-France in the north, but "we made it retreat greatly."
Another projected winner on the right, Laurent Wauquiez, said the far right had been left "no room to prosper" in his region, Auvergne-Rhne-Alpes.
Although focused on local issues, and marked by record-low turnout, the regional voting was scrutinized as a test of whether the National Rally is gaining in acceptability.
Le Pen has spent a decade trying to cast off the extremist reputation that repelled many French voters in its previous guise as the National Front.
The party's failure to win a region suggested that Le Pen and her party remain unpalatable to many before the 2022 presidential vote.
In a confirmation of trends set in the June 20 first round, Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) party could not even break into double figures nationwide, according to the estimates by polling organisations broadcast by French television.
Voter interest was tepid, at best.
Turnout nationwide was less than 30 percent by late afternoon.
Among the few who cast ballots, some lamented that young voters, in particular, appeared to be squandering the last voting opportunity before the 2022 presidential poll.
"It’s shameful," said Suzette Lefevre, a retiree who voted in Saint-Quentin in northern France. "Our parents fought for us for this and people aren't following suit."
Philippe Corbonnois, another retiree who turned out in Saint-Quentin, opined that young people "maybe don't believe in politics."