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Chrisafis reports: "Francois Hollande's Socialist Party has won an absolute majority in the French parliament, giving him a free hand in his attempts to drag France out of its economic crisis through a mixture of deficit-reduction and growth measures."

Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry promised the new parliament would be more representative of France. (photo: Yoan Valat/EPA)
Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry promised the new parliament would be more representative of France. (photo: Yoan Valat/EPA)



French Socialists Surge to Wide Victory

By Angelique Chrisafis, Guardian UK

18 June 12

 

Left now holds historic concentration of power, but François Hollande faces difficult task of tackling economic gloom.

rançois Hollande's Socialist party has won an absolute majority in the French parliament, giving him a free hand in his attempts to drag France out of its economic crisis through a mixture of deficit-reduction and growth measures.

The left now holds a historic concentration of power in France as it controls both the assembly and the senate. But Hollande faces the difficult task of tackling France's economic gloom, high unemployment and rising debt. His plans include raising taxes on the wealthy. An audit of the country's dire public finances will set the tone for the first summer parliament session, which begins later this month. The prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, appeared to be preparing France for difficult choices and sacrifices in his speech after the vote, saying: "The task ahead of us is immense."

The Socialists are predicted to take between 308 and 320 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, well over the required 289 for an outright majority.

One outcome of the night was the two seats won by the far-right Front National, which will sit in parliament for the first time since 1986. Marion Maréchal Le Pen, the 22-year-old granddaughter of the Front National's figurehead, Jean-Marie Le Pen, won a seat in the southern constituency of Vaucluse. A law student who sat her exams during the campaign, and denied being pushed into running for parliament by her famous family, becomes the youngest French MP in modern history. The lawyer Gilbert Collard also won a Front National seat in the Gard in southern France. He said he would be on "a democratic ball-breaking mission" in the assembly. The Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, was beaten after a high-profile struggle in the northern constituency of Henin-Beaumont, losing by 114 votes to a Socialist and has demanded a recount. An MP for the far-right Southern League was also elected in the south. The last Front National MP was elected in 1997 but the result was annulled over funding irregularities.

Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, which had led the assembly for a decade, is braced for a bitter internal leadership battle after a low score and the defeat of key figures such as Claude Guéant, the hardline former interior minister and Sarkozy ally, who was running for first time, and ex-minister Nadine Morano. The party had been under fire for courting the far-right vote and will now begin soul-searching over it positioning.

The centrist presidential candidate François Bayrou was defeated in his fiefdom in Pau.

The Green party, thanks to an election deal with the Socialists, won around 19 seats and will form a Green parliamentary group for the first time in France.

One of the biggest upsets for the Socialists came in La Rochelle, where the Socialist former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal was beaten by a dissident candidate expelled from the Socialist party for standing against her. Royal's battle was at the centre of a presidential private-life saga this week when Hollande's partner, the journalist Valérie Trierweiler, tweeted her support of the dissident. Hollande had backed Royal, who was his partner for 30 years and is mother of his four children.

The Socialist party leader Martine Aubry promised the new parliament would be more representative of France, with more women and MPs from France's diverse ethnic make-up. In the last parliament there was only one black MP representing mainland France. As final counts continued, the exact number of women or ethnic minority MPs was unclear.

In the last of four elections in two-months, including the two-round presidential race, there was a notably low turnout of about 56%.

 

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+4 # Valleyboy 2012-06-19 00:55
The label of Socialist means nothing if they continue to follow neo-liberal economic policy, am I right?
 
 
+5 # RMDC 2012-06-19 02:29
I should be happy about a socialist victory in France. But I'm just afraid that the socialists are not really socialists anymore. The socialist party in Greece was unable to withstand the pressure from the banks. Same for Spain. It may turn out that Hollande is more like the progressive Obama, just too weak to do anything about policies that are set by the natural enemies of all people -- the corporations, military, and banks.

Hollande has already indicated he favors military action against Syria -- a former French colony.

I was swayed by Obama's campaign of hope and change and I feel that way still by Hollande who used much of the same rhetoric in his campaign. It is now too late for empty rhetoric. Hollande will have a few months to rein in banking corruption and fraud. All of the major banks in Europe and the US are bankrupt. They have trillions of dollars (euros) of worthless derivatives on their books. They want governments and people to buy out their bad debts. Hollande needs to force them do go into bankruptcy. He has to resist the extortion game -- you either give us your money or we will crash your economy.

I wish the socialists the best but they must perform. France needs to withdraw from NATO and refuse to join colonialist wars. That would be a good start.
 

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