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A Weekend Of Voting And Tennis

  • June 11th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

sarkhozy.jpgVoters in France and Belgium supported right wing parties in elections on the weekend (10.6.07) with Socialist Parties in both countries the main losers.

SARKOZY BAND WAGGON

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy, himself elected one month ago, had called for a large majority to back his plans for sweeping economic changes.

He wants tax cuts, including reduction of the highest margin to 50% and no tax on overtime earnings – a weakening of the country’s 35-hour week.

His party, the UMP, looks set to get over three-quarters of the seats in the National Assembly. It received 45% support in the first round of voting (a second round due in two weeks), the Socialists 35%. The centrist UDF led by the former Presidential candidate Francois Beyrou came in with a little over 7% and a few seats. (That party was split; most of its elected members from before the Presidential vote stayed with the government, and the ruling UMP made space for them in its voting lists to ensure their re-election). Minor parties look unlikely to get any seats.

There is some tradition behind a new President getting his way in legislative elections; Francois Mitterrand’s Socialists won just after his election in 1981, setting up a program of nationalisations of industry.

The voter turn-out this time was low at 60%, well down on the record turn-out for the Presidential contest between Sarkozy and the Socialist candidate Segolene Royale.

The Socialist Party, which has been struggling to agree on a set of fresh programs, has called on voters to turn out for the next round, to prevent too much power being given to one party.

BELGIUM CHANGES

The Liberal and Socialist parties in the Belgian coalition government suffered a heavy swing which was expected to force the resignation of the Flemish Liberal Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.

His party could still end up as the second party in a new government coalition subordinated to the Christian Democrats, who made a strong come-back after several years of decline – their best result since 1981.

Two minor parties (the Greens and a Flemish Liberal splinter group) are expected to have four seats each in the 81-member Chamber, but the only arithmetic for a parliamentary majority is for a coalition of Christian Democrats and Liberals. Commentators have not ruled out a kind of national coalition – a tri-partite grouping involving Socialists as well.

The Liberals were under attack for not delivering promised tax cuts to Belgium’s legion of small business proprietors, and others; the Socialists in the French-speaking Wallonia region had been criticised over financial scandals.

ANOTHER BELGIAN WINNER

Some were blaming the tennis at Roland-Garros for a low voter turn-out in France, Nadal-Federer making old-news of Sarkozy-Royale, (Sarkozy though reportedly possesses a good wing on the court).

Folks were definitely distracted in Belgium over World Number One Justine Henin. The Belgian player’s fourth French Open victory (over Ana Ivanovic; her third in a row) dislodged politics from media headlines. “Justine Henin, reine incontestee de Roland-Garros” (Justine Henin, uncontested Queen of Roland-Garros) front-paged the Sunday Dimanche newspaper. “Henin needed little more than an hour to crush her opponent,” marvelled Flandersnews Online.

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