[personal profile] lacroix
I thought these might be interesting to look at, especially the first round, to serve as a bellwether for the first round of the presidential elections of 2012, when Sarkozy will be running for a second term. Of course, that's quite early, but the precedent is 2004, where the Parti Socialiste won a massive victory, leaving only two régions under the control of the ruling UMP of Jacques Chirac.1 The régions in question were Corsica and the Alsace, quite peripheral to France as a whole.2

With as big a swing as that, you'd expect a return to the mean for these elections. The UMP is quite unpopular in France, though, especially because of the soaring unemployment. On the other hand, the PS is in no position to capitalize on this, so we're seeing low turnout and a lot of protest votes, away from the traditional big bruisers. On the left, the big winner is Europe Écologie, on the right, the Front National. In mainland France,3 though, this movement results in a lot of second rounds with these four parties still competing.4 In the 2004 election, the second round was usually UMP-PS-FN, and with FN voters sticking to their own party, the Left cruised to some easy victories with the support of Green voters. The big question here is whether they're likely to push for a Left or a specifically Green victory.

In a really rough estimate, splitting the votes of the parties that didn't make the cut evenly between the parties that share some of their ideology,5 the UMP is projected to retain control of the Alsace and gain control of Guyane and Rhône-Alpes. The great unknown factor here is the splintered left. It's become more and more fractious in the last ten years, and with nine of the constituencies, including Corsica, coming down to less than 5% of the vote — five less than 1%! — I'm finding it really hard to draw conclusions.

In Auvergne, for example, the UMP racked up 28% of the vote, the PS 28% as well, the Left Front 14% and the Greens 10%. The FN stranded outside of the second round with 9% — but if the left sticks to its guns, the FN voters will pile in and hand the UMP the victory, even though the three leftist parties just got 52% of the vote!

It seems that these regional elections haven't just confirmed what was already known, they're also turning into a test for the Left electorate, and whether it'll choose being able to set a policy over ideological purity. Since so many of the régions are already in PS hands, though, I assume there'll be relatively little crossover voting. Still, in the worst-case scenario the left hangs on to 14 régions, compared to the UMP's 12.

1 Chirac won his second term against Jean-Marie Le Pen, an extreme right candidate of the Front National.
2 The previous Alsace government was led by the FN, so even here there was a swing to if not the left, at least the sane. In Corsica, the Left was such a mess that the UMP eked out a victory against the odds.
3 The islands and overseas do their own thing, they always have. Parties that'd be marginal elsewhere can be extremely popular. Réunion is currently led by its Communist party, for instance, and they're all on the Left side of the divide.
4 Parties with over 10% of the vote can compete in the second round. The cutoff is 5% in Corsica.
5 I admit I just dropped the MoDem voters. They're a minor centrist party.


Julianna Lacroix

July 2010

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