A brief guide to the 2015 French regional elections

Citizens are called to choose regional councils under the new map passed by the French National Assembly in 2014 · Polls show National Front significant rise · Pro-autonomy Corsicans hope to become strongest party in first round

First elections to be held under the new map. French are called to elect all the country's regional councils plus the assemblies of Corsica, Guiana and Martinique. The French National Assembly passed in 2014 the merger of several regions, despite protests in some territories. European France has now 13 official regions, out of 22 previously.

Double round with winner's premium. The first round of the elections will held on December 6th. Any list exceeding 50% of the votes will be declared as the winner. If no list reaches 50%, a run-off will be held on December 13th. List having received at least 10% of the votes in the first round -7% in Corsica- can run again in the second round. Lists having obtained 5% to 10% of the votes in the first round can merge with lists having exceeded 10%.

Election winners -be it in first or second round alike- are automatically allocated 25% of the seats -in Corsica, Guiana and Martinique the seat premium is a little bit smaller. The remaining seats are proportionally distributed among the lists having reached at least 5% of the votes.

From an almost monochrome red map in 2010... Leftist parties managed to win all but three regional councils and assemblies -only Alsace, Guiana and Reunion elected right-wing lists- in the 2010 regional elections.

… to an expected right-wing majority in 2015.Opinion polls are very clear: the 2010 map will not hold. Center-right Les Républicains (former UMP) and radical right-wing National Front (FN) lead the polls (27% to 30% of the votes each). Meanwhile, the Socialists are predicted to receive 22% to 24% of the votes. The Greens and the Left Front -which in some regions run on a joint platform but in others are split- could get 11% to 13% of the ballots. Vote intention to UMP Eurosceptic splinter party Debout la France -which has links to UKIP at the European level- is steadily growing, and could secure up to 5% of the votes.

Corsica. The term of the Corsican AMs to be elected in this election will only last two years, as the current Assembly and the two departmental councils will be merged into one single Corsican Assembly in 2017, when elections will again be held. In the first round, pro-autonomy list Femu a Corsica hopes to become the single largest party. In the second round, however, two French right-wing lists -not the FN- could secure victory if they merge.

Brittany. This is one of few regional councils where the Socialists have good prospects of retaining power. According to the most recent poll, the centre-left party enjoys a 7-point margin (42% to 35%) ahead of Les Républicains. A pro-autonomy list led by Christian Troadec was almost at a 10%-vote intention some weeks ago, but they seem to be losing some ground, and are now expected to get 6%. Two pro-independence parties could secure some 2.5% of the votes.

Alsace. Some groups in the Alsatian society were really upset after learning that their territory would be merged together with Lorraine and Champagne-Ardennes into a new Eastern macroregion. Alsace's pro-autonomy Unser Land party is trying to channel discontent under a joint list with Parti Lorrain and other minor parties. They are predicted to receive 3.5% of the votes at the macroregional level, thus not advancing into the second round. Les Républicains could be winning the vote, with the FN only 4 points behind.

Occitania and Northern Catalonia. The FN is the frontrunner for the election in Provence, with an 11-point margin ahead of Les Républicains.

In the new Occitan-Catalan macroregion -merging Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées together- the Socialists are on their way to victory, although the FN is just 4 points behind them in the second round's prediction. Pro-autonomy Occitan Party runs jointly with the Greens, led by Gerard Onesta. Their list is expected to receive some 14% of the votes in the first round. Onesta said he was ready to merge with the Socialists in the second in order to help in defeating the FN. Not a single North Catalan list runs for election.

Northern Basque Country. The Basque lands will be just a small area of the new South-western macroregion, which comes out of the merger of the previous Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes regions. Both the Socialist Party and Les Républicans could win the vote in the new macroregion, with the FN quite far away behind them. Like the Catalans do, Basque parties are not running for election. Northern Basque Country could be recognized as a distinct entity within the new macroregion in 2017 if an announced association of Basque municipalities is finally established.