Socialists win French parliament election
-COL DR. ABDUL RUFF
Close on the heels of its victory last month in the French presidential poll, Socialist party is surging ahead to win the parliament poll as well now.
France's 46 million eligible voters have been picking representatives for 577 seats in the French National Assembly. The outcome of the just concluded parliamentary polls in France is expected to determine the extent and pace of reform under the newly-elected French leader.
According to final results, President Francois Hollande's Socialists and allies look set to emerge with a majority after first round voting in French parliamentary elections. Left-wing and green parties won a total of more than 46% of the vote compared to 34% for the centre-right UMP party, interior ministry figures showed. The turnout nationwide was a modest 57%. Run-offs are to be held next week.
With the Senate already under the control of the Socialists, it appears that Hollande will also have a majority in the lower house - even if only with the support of allies - which would give him unprecedented power to force through his reform program. Hollande's government is due to present a revised budget plan to parliament next month. The result of the parliamentary election will determine the pace of reform and how radical it becomes.
The estimates indicate that the Socialists and their Green allies might win as few as 283 seats or potentially as many as 347. However, potential allies in the anti-capitalist Left Front would take 13-20 seats and ensure a majority. The communist-backed Left Front, led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, won 6.9% of the vote.
The election also saw a surge in support for Marine Le Pen's far right National Front, which won almost 14% of votes - way beyond the 4% it achieved in the last parliamentary election of 2007.
However, under France's first-past-the-post system, that would give the party only three parliamentary seats at best and possibly none at all. It is hard to predict accurately what the final tallies will be before next week's decisive round of voting. In many constituencies there will be a three way run-off.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, an influential Socialist said that it's a good result tonight, but “we have to remain mobilized for the second round”. It was a big night for Ms Le Pen on a personal level. The firebrand leader of the hard left Jean Luc Melenchon had challenged Madame Le Pen for the seat in the northern town of Henin Beaumont. In the end he finished third and last night withdrew from the second round race.
The left bloc as a whole have more support than the right, they will have a majority in the new parliament and that will ensure that Hollande can force through the ambitious tax and spend policies that he has set out. There is certainly a downturn in support for the conservative UMP. It is a symbolic win for the left; they hold the Senate, key regional administrations and now also the lower assembly so he has considerable power to push through these reforms.
The far right has not held any seats in parliament since the 1980s. The electoral system may yet deny them a seat – but the National Front is now by some margin the third biggest party in French politics. They are eurosceptic and anti-globalization and could cause problems for Hollande, particularly when it comes to spending cuts that if he decides to enact against popular will or if he is to meet the promises he set out to Brussels and to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But it is a win for Hollande, but not perhaps as big a win - symbolically - as he might have wanted. He is only neck and neck with the UMP - and will need the support of allies on the left and, perhaps, even the support of the Left Front, the far-left party.
Francois Hollande, France's president is an experienced political organizer would not dare commit anti-people mistakes to please capitalist allies on immoral austerity measures. The modest image of this man who until recently preferred to travel to work on a scooter conceals, his supporters would argue, his pro-people intent and a steely determination to lead his country.
Having been active in student politics, he joined the Socialist party in 1979 and played a junior role as an economic adviser in the Mitterrand presidency. He knows he would be hated by people if he pursues austerity measures and hence he would not fall an easy prey to right wing politicians.