French Parliamentary elections update

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, François Bayrou’s centrist Mouvement démocrate (MoDem, ex UDF) gets 4, the Communist Party gets 15 seats and Le Nouveau Centre (ex UDF) gets 22.

Le Pen’s Front National has been annihilated and reduced to its hardcore grassroots. According to today’s Le Figaro 54% of FN voters stayed home, 27% voted for the Right and 19% voted for the Left.

The Left’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 Sarkozy’s recent talk about “the social VAT”. 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 Assemblée 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 Rêve Française 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 Fillon’s diverse second cabinet, which includes several young people: “Everything the Left dreamt of has now been realised by the Right”. 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? We’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 women’s right organisation Ni putes ni soumises. Their main slogan is “Egalité, Laïcité, Mixité”, roughly translated as “Equal, Secular, Mixed”. She has been appointed junior minister in charge of towns.

Rama Yade is, in her own words, “everything that politicians are not: female, young, black and muslim”. 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.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, France by Guy La Roche. Bookmark the permalink.

About Guy La Roche

Dutch translator and subtitler living in Brittany with his three cats. Has also lived in the Flemish part of Belgium. Speaks English rather fluently and in a former life used to have a decent command of Spanish. Knows swear words in German and Russian. Not quite francophone yet, but slowly getting there. Vaguely centrist observer of the world around him, extremely naive and, sometimes, rather proud of it. Writes Venale Pecus.

5 thoughts on “French Parliamentary elections update

  1. One very important caveat that should be added to the above article: this is Nicolas Sarkozy’s government.

    He has shuffled and re-shuffled the various ministerial responsibilities, in such a way that it is quite clear the autonomy of the different ministries are now close to zero. In other words, he is the boss, he is in charge and he will decide.

    Which means that, heart-warming stories of French success aside, his ministers will be expected to obey and shut up. As M. Chevenement once said: “A minister shuts up and do as he is told, or he quits”. Given the strong personalities of some of these ministers, I expect a couple of them to quit pretty early on. The right may promotes a couple of people from the minorities when it suits its purposes, but I am not so sure these people will stay in place for long.

  2. I totally agree with the previous post.
    Sarkozy has choose people either :
    -not belonging to UMP, so no support from the party.
    – People unkown
    – With little political experience.
    All the power will go to Sarkozy/Fillon.
    It looks like in 1995 with Chirac/Juppé.

    JLS.

  3. 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.

    It is disappointing that even a British publication like The Independent falls victim to America’s bizaare definition of race. Barack Obama is only half black. For the most part, he was raised by his white maternal grandparents (in Hawaii, one place where America’s normal concept of race does not apply), with his black father playing little role in his life beyond that of semen depositor. Tiger Woods? He’s only one-quarter black, and in fact is half Asian. Of the 190 or so countries in the world, he is considered black in precisely one – the United States, of course.

  4. It is disappointing that even a British publication like The Independent falls victim to America’s bizaare definition of race. Barack Obama is only half black.

    The vast majority of African-Americans are part European. http://www.genome.org – 624.pdf

  5. “Of the 190 or so countries in the world, he is considered black in precisely one – the United States, of course.”

    That’s not only wrong, it’s pompously wrong.

    I can assure you from firsthand experience — if Tiger walked down a street in Japan, he’d be identified not as a fellow Asian, but as a “doo-jin”.

    China or Korea, same-same.

    Doug M.

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