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French Socialists look on track to gain absolute majority
By JOSEPH STRICH
06/12/2012
Final round of parliamentary voting to take place on Sunday.
 
After the Socialist Party’s strong showing in the first round of legislative elections on Sunday, French President François Hollande can expect to gain an absolute majority in the second and last round.

Such a result in the vote next Sunday would permit him and his government to make the political changes promised during his presidential campaign, and to implement economic and social measures crucial for both France and Europe.

“If you want to help the president to tidy up the country, go and vote in the second round, and make sure you put the right ballot paper,” Martine Aubry, the first secretary of the Socialist Party, told France 2 television when the results of the first round were published early on Monday.

The Left – the Socialists and their allies – received 47 percent of the ballots, and the moderate Right – the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) – 34%, while 42.77% of the registered voters stayed home, the highest proportion in years.

The nightmare scenario for Hollande of being forced to govern in coalition with the right wing is looking less and less likely.

The victory of the Left is evident, and the dream of the Socialist Party, to gain an absolute majority for the first time since 1981 (the victory of François Mitterand), could be within reach.

A total of 6,591 candidates ran for 577 seats in the National Assembly.

Classic politicians, historic figures, well-known official parties, of course, but also eccentric ones and small parties: a weather show forecaster, an anti-radar movement, a pirate party, a pornography actress and a descendant of the last king of France. The oldest candidate was Irene Akoun, 85, and the youngest, Alexis Atlani, just 18.

Israel is participating in the grand finale of the French democratic process that started on April 22 and continued on May 6 (the first and second rounds of the presidential elections, respectively). The Jewish state is one of several where dual citizens can vote for newly created positions; in total 11 deputies from districts outside of France will be sent to the parliament in Paris for the first time.

The first round in Israel and other countries was held one week ago, on June 3, and the second round will be held on the same day as in France, next Sunday.

The non-stop coverage of the first round by French TV started eight days ago, in Tel Aviv. TV crews used footage obtained from Tel Aviv, reporting the event for days.

Reviewing the overall results: 47% for the Left means at least 310 seats (289 are required for a majority), and 34% for the Right – at least 224 seats.

The National Front Party headed by Marine Le Pen took 13.4%. This is less than her 17.9% result in the presidential elections, and the party might get only between 0 and 3 seats in the National Assembly. This is due to a very non-democratic system invented years ago especially to stop the National Front, but Le Pen has personal and familial reasons to celebrate: she defeated outright her challenger, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the Left Front, in the small town of Henin-Baumont in the Pasde- Calais, where he had been expecting to fight a duel with her in the second round.

According to her the results are “the confirmation of our position as the third political force in France.”

“Next Sunday, the people of France will enter the parliament,” Le Pen said.

Her niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, is also positioned well, in Carpentras (south), where she obtained 34% in the first round. Her grandfather Jean- Marie Le Pen wasn’t there; he was accused in the ’80s of damaging the local Jewish cemetery.

UMP Chairman Jean François Copé called for a “general mobilization” in the second round on Sunday. “The French don’t want to put all their eggs in the same basket,” he said.

“The Socialist Party should not have all the power in its hands, that’s why these elections are so important,” former UMP prime minister François Fillon said, while his ex-foreign minister, Alain Juppé, promised there will be no alliance with the National Front.

One of Fillon’s former ministers, the Senegal-born Rama Yade who had been in charge of human rights and who is married to a Jew, failed to get a seat in the parliament this Sunday.

One person who hasn’t lost yet but who soon might is the centrist François Bayrou, whose Democratic Movement got only 1.5% of the votes on Sunday and expects a poor result of only 3 to 7 seats in the National Assembly. Bayrou told journalists of the difficulties caused by his endorsement of Hollande in the second round of the presidential election.

“My supporters didn’t understand and didn’t accept my choice,” he said.

The choice, the Socialists are now saying, is between change and a comeback by the UMP.
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