The final results of the French Parliamentary elections 2007 are in. The UMP (Union pour un mouvement populaire) gets 324 seats as opposed to 359 in 2002, the Socialist Party & its allies together have 207 as against 149 in 2002, FranÃ§ois Bayrouâ€™s centrist Mouvement dÃ©mocrate (MoDem, ex UDF) gets 4, the Communist Party gets 15 seats and Le Nouveau Centre (ex UDF) gets 22.
Le Penâ€™s Front National has been annihilated and reduced to its hardcore grassroots. According to todayâ€™s Le Figaro 54% of FN voters stayed home, 27% voted for the Right and 19% voted for the Left.
The Leftâ€™s surprisingly strong showing in the second round has been able to stem the blue tidal wave, even though the UMP maintains a strong majority. As Alex already noted earlier one reason for this is MoDem voters swinging their way. Another reason could very well be Sarkozyâ€™s recent talk about â€œthe social VATâ€. The idea was to raise VAT to contain outsourcing and improve competitiveness by making consumers carry a part of the social security burden.
It is also interesting to note that the share of female representatives rose from 12.2% in 2002 to 18.5% in 2007 and that the median age of representatives is now 55 (source: paper version of Le Figaro) . The AssemblÃ©e overall got a bit younger.
In the meantime the new government has also been announced. The complete list of secretaries can be found here at Le Figaro or here at the BBC News Site. One interesting newcomer: Rachida Dati (video), Minister of Justice. Could she, her parents being of North African descent, become a symbolic figurehead for a French equivalent of the American Dream? She herself plays down the importance of her ethnic background, but just imagine what the very concept of a RÃªve FranÃ§aise could do to integration and the overall image of immigrants. Those readers of AFOE who still remember me after my hiatus already know the drill: discuss in comments. If you need some inspiration, compare:
From this article in The Independent on US presidential candidate Barack Obama:
This family history, coupled with a gentle manner and a political message of reconciliation and healing, make Mr Obama one of a select group of blacks – Tiger Woods and Colin Powell are two others that come to mind – who transcend race. Whites do not feel threatened by them. Rather they make Americans feel good about themselves and a society in which this sort of ascent is possible.
And from the BBC News profile on Rachida Dati:
Lawyer Rachida Dati, named as French justice minister by President Sarkozy, is the first person of North African origin to hold a top government post in Paris. She was born in 1965 to an Moroccan mason father and an Algerian mother, one of 12 children raised in humble circumstances. At the age of 16, she started working as a carer in a private clinic. The premature death of her mother forced her to look after her younger sisters and brothers.
Not just in America?
Late night addendum
Tonight on French television news I heard a nice summary of Fillonâ€™s diverse second cabinet, which includes several young people: â€œEverything the Left dreamt of has now been realised by the Rightâ€. Sarkozy & Co have managed to rejuvenate, diversify and somehow emancipate French high office. And they have reached out to the Left and Centre. Is this truly the beginning of a nouvelle vague in French politics? Weâ€™ll see.
Regarding the emancipation, women that are now holding high offices, there is Justice Minister Rachida Dati, of course, but we now also have Christine Lagarde, the first female Finance and Economy Minister of a G7 country. See also this article in the Financial Times. I saw Lagarde, the fifth most successful business woman in Europe in 2002, profiled on tv and was immediately struck by her posture and her impeccable English. Classy lady and no doubt very competent. Will she be popular? We’ll have to wait and see how she will handle the hot irons of the “social VAT” and the envisioned relaxation of the 35-hour week law.
And then there are also junior ministers Fadela Amara and Rama Yade. Fadela Amara is the founder of the egalitarian womenâ€™s right organisation Ni putes ni soumises. Their main slogan is â€œEgalitÃ©, LaÃ¯citÃ©, MixitÃ©â€, roughly translated as â€œEqual, Secular, Mixedâ€. She has been appointed junior minister in charge of towns.
Rama Yade is, in her own words, â€œeverything that politicians are not: female, young, black and muslimâ€. This young politician of Senegalese descent is now junior foreign office minister with a responsibility for human rights.
I do not think a Left majority could have done a much better job in forming a government. At least not until they reform their party, throw out some heavy weights that are blocking progress and sort out a few internal issues that are really not that interesting to voters.