Monday, March 31, 2014
'Sans Precedent' - France's Left Loses Big As Socialist Prime Minister Resigns
France is still reeling from the final results of their municipal elections, which saw the ruling Socialist party take historic losses to former president Nicholas Sarkozy's UMP and Marine Le Pen's National Front.
This is being portrayed in some circles as the electorate simply being in an anti-incumbent mood, but only three municipalities moved from having a rightist (UMP) mayor to having a Socialist mayor, while at least 155 moved the other way, with some parts of the French press calling this a droitisation (rightward movement). This is the first time since the Socialists won power in 2012 that the people of France have had the chance to weigh in on the Socialist's policies.
The big surprise, of course, was the showing of the National Front, labeled a 'far right' party that has taken a firm stand against unlimited Muslim immigration. They won something like 15 mayoral elections with respectable majorities, and as Marine Le Pen said on election night, they have now come of age as France's third party. In the next national election in 2017,the FN could well end up being the kingmakers in France's coalition government. The test now will be to see whether the new FN mayors govern effectively and whether the party can build on this showing in the Senatorial elections scheduled for this September.
France's Socialist President François Hollande has already forced Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to 'resign', one of many ministers in Hollande's cabinet who look to be getting the axe. Significantly, Ayrault's replacement is none other than former Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who is considered to be on the right wing of the Socialist Party and is personally popular with the electorate in general. Among other things, Valls, Spanish-born but a naturalized French citizen has come in favir of curbing immigration and repealing France's 35 hour work week, a Socialist policy.
Hollande, in a pre-recorded televised speech also said it was time for a "new phase". He made reference to unspecified tax cuts and an equally unspecified cut of 50-billion euros in government spending. These measures are not going to resonate well with Hollande's Socialist base.
Government spokespeople announced that other changes in ministers won't be announced until tomorrow at the earlist and that Hollande and Valls will collaborate on the new appointments.
Here's a uniquely French touch. One name being considered or a major ministry is none other than Segolene Royal, the former French Socialist presidential candidate. She is also Hollande's former 'partner' (they never married) whom Hollande first began living with in 1978 and had 4 children with before he dumped her in 2007 after she lost the presidential race to begin living with his next 'partner', French journalist Valérie Trierweiler -= whom he dumped this year in favor of an actress 20 years his junior, Julie Gayet!
If Royal gets into the government, il y aura une réunion d'intéressant,n'est pa?