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Balancing Up; (But Not By Enough) …

  • June 19th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

segolene-royal-resize.jpgFrench voters on the weekend (17.6.07) delivered a surprise swing towards the opposition Socialist Party — but still provided a good working majority for conservatives led by the country’s new President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The socialist candidate in the presidential election last month, Segolene Royal (picture), added a soap opera quality to proceedings on election night, by confirming her separation from Francois Hollande, her long-time partner and First Secretary of the Socialist Party.

After being white-washed in the first round of parliamentary elections a fortnight ago, the socialists made a come-back, winning an additional fifty seats in the National Assembly.

State of the parties, allowing for late changes: The conservative UMP of President Sarkozy has an absolute majority in it own right with 314 of the 577 seats, and a bloc of over thirty closely allied deputies in addition; the socialists have 185, Communist Party 15, Greens 4, and the liberal party headed by Francois Bayrou three.

The socialists had faced near-annihilation in the honeymoon period for Nicolas Sarkozy, with polls indicating that conservatives would win over 75% of seats.

They deployed some professional campaign resources to reverse the trend:

• Playing up opposition to proposal for a new TVA (much like GST) bumblingly floated by the government, as a means to fund welfare and other “social” promises.
• Organising a strong get-out-the-vote campaign among traditionally left-wing voters mostly in working class suburbs and towns.
• Appealing to all voters to make sure of a good democratic balance by avoiding a “one-party state” or one-man-band government.
• Keeping quiet about the personal relationship between their party’s two leading lights until after the voting was over.

Voter participation stayed low at around 60%, well down on the large number who turned out for the Presidential contest between Sarkozy and Royal.