Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Disdain For Local Elections

There is some debate at the websites over the election results. Was it really such a loss for Sarkozy's UMP or only a relative setback? Is it really a major gain for the Left? Is the Front National through as a party or still very much alive? First the opinion of Le Conservateur:

Let's tell it as it is: it was a slap in the face for the Right. Even if local circumstances allow the Right to hold on to several municipalities and to conquer a few titles of burgomaster, the result is no less disastrous. Often there is a gap of 15 or 20 points between the candidate on the Left and the UMP candidate! And what UMP candidates? Unlikely alliances, as illustrated by Mme de Panafieu's voting ballot that pictured the logo of the "New Left"!

Note: Françoise de Panafieu is running for mayor of Paris on the UMP ticket against socialist Bertrand Delanoë, who is ahead by a wide margin. Apparently, in an effort to win votes, she aligned herself with a party called the New Left, created in September 2007 by Jean-Marie Bockel, a former socialist now in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The party is open to those on the Left, but not to socialists. It is one of many examples of creating a new party with an attractive label that has no concrete meaning.

By trumpeting the idea that the results of the vote are due to local politics, the ruling Right insulted its workers. Are the records of the UMP mayors so bad that from Brittany to Alsace, from the North to the Pyrenees, the results are unanimous? What disdain the UMP leaders displayed last night when they passed this harsh sentence! The reality is obviously national: the right-wing voters - the "popular classes" who had voted for Sarkozy, probably more so than the others - stayed home, while the left-wing voters went to the polls. That this election is a national indicator can be proven by the irreversible loss suffered by the fine Christian Vanneste, drubbed on the first round in the city of Tourcoing that had elected Sarkozy, only to throw him overboard a year later.

Perhaps the second round will fine-tune the judgment, but the lesson is still a bitter one.

First, the Right is very wrong to disdain local elections. We suddenly learn that the government's agenda did not take local elections into account. If that is true, it is no reason to be proud! The UMP political machine is displaying an obvious blindness coupled with contempt. Local authorities are very important. In France where the levels of power reenforce one another instead of complementing one another, the Left can easily create a parallel reality, armed with an enormous budget and visible bully pulpits from which to shout its lies. You have only to see the budget that the city of Paris spends on ultra-left-wing associations who become headliners on the partisan televised journals of France 3 or Canal Plus, to be convinced.

Second, the Right must get busy fulfilling its promises to the popular electorate who are the key to this defeat. This electorate is not interested in commemorating the holocaust, or in Ingrid Bétancourt, or in a Mediterranean Union. As for the Front National, it is practically clinically dead. Should it be revived? Is it worth it? Who are its leaders and what programs do they have to win us over?

Note: Franco-Colombian Ingrid Bétancourt is in the French news daily. For six years she has been the hostage of the Venezuelan terrorist group FARC. The French have made some awkward attempts to intervene, without success.

Note: Deputy Christian Vanneste, whose defeat last Sunday is discussed above, contributed to the comments that follow the article, and confirmed the opinion of Le Conservateur:

Dear Sir,

I agree completely with your analysis. In Tourcoing, the popular electorate that had massively voted for Sarkozy in 2007 stayed home. It is obviously the behavior of Nicolas Sarkozy (especially his wealthy friends and his private life) that displeased these voters...

And so we have a record abstention of 45% and a new mayor elected by only 23% of the registered voters...

Finally, in his communiqués, Jean-Marie Le Pen makes clear that the Front National is very much alive:

The Political Bureau of the Front National, meeting today (March 10) in Saint-Cloud, is delighted with the signs of a electoral resurgence evident from the municipal elections, but also and especially from the elections for general councillors. The Front National, that ran in 1100 cantons (voting districts), received a national average of 10% and now requests its members to mobilize for the second round in the cities and cantons where the Front National will present candidates. (...)

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