The French conservative who routed far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a critical regional election thanks leftist voters for supporting him and keeping the anti-immigrant National Front from power.
Xavier Bertrand, a labor minister under former President Sarkozy, says after the results were announced: “Here the French gave a lesson of rallying together, courage.”
“Here we stopped the progression of the National Front,” he says as Le Pen’s supporters boo his remarks from their party’s headquarters.
Polling agencies project that his Republicans party wins about 57 percent of the vote in the Nord-Pas de Calais-Picardie region, more than doubling his score from the Dec. 6 first round. Le Pen wins about 42 percent in the runoff.