Why we should not be too quick to celebrate the Front National's 'collapse' in France

The Front National suffered a shock defeat in French regional elections on Sunday, failing to win a single seat.

The far-right party had been leading in six of the 12 regions after the first round of voting last weekend but was pushed into third place amid claims of tactical voting and a mobilised electorate.

Many on this side of the Channel have celebrated the FN's defeat:

Even French prime minister Manuel Valls, of the socialist party, hailed it a "victory for the Republic” and the "values of fraternity, common sense and togetherness".

But the result was partly enabled by the ruling centre-left socialists who withdrew two of their candidates in order to allow the centre-right Republicans, led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, to secure victory.

As the Independent's John Lichfield explained from Paris:

The ruling Socialists committed electoral hara-kiri in two big regions, in the north and east, to keep out the FN. By withdrawing all their candidates, they permitted left-wing voters to switch to the centre-right and "bar" the far right.

Swathes of moderate voters were also mobilised following the Front National's surprise lead after the first round - with the turnout rising from 50 per cent to 59 per cent.

Others have pointed out that the far-right party has still achieved its biggest ever number of votes - 7m nationwide, up from the record 6.4m it attracted in the 2012 presidential election.

The far-right have capitalised on the attacks in Paris which killed 130 last month as well as "record unemployment, a faltering economy, spending cuts and timid market-opening reforms by an unpopular socialist government," as Lichfield reports.

With Le Pen still talking up her hopes of success in the 2017 presidential elections and this result affected by the tactical moves of the two main parties, Europe still has a long way to go before the threat of the far-right is diminished.

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