France

Black Sunday for Socialists as Hollande plans reshuffle


Published

The only good news for President François Hollande and his Socialist Party (PS) in the local elections was that the party held on to Paris after a chaotic campaign by the centre-right. Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo won the capital with 54.5% of the votes against Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet of the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). The Socialists also held on to Lyon, Strasbourg and Dijon.

On a day described as ‘Black Sunday’ by one Socialist lawmaker, turnout was its lowest ever at 61.5% as many Socialist supporters stayed at home but that was good news for the UMP and the far-right National Front (FN). Latest figures suggest that the UMP took 46% of the vote to the PS on 40% and the FN on 7%.

The UMP picked up 155 municipalities of more than 9,000 inhabitants from the Socialists including Toulouse, Angers, Limoges, Saint-Etienne, Reims, Amiens and Caen.

Meanwhile the National Front picked up the mayoralties of an expected 11 municipalities and some 1,379 council seats. Last week the FN won the mayoralty of Hénin-Beaumont, yesterday they added to their tally with Fréjus, Béziers, Hayange, Villers-Cotterêts, Beaucaire, Le Luc and Le Pontet et Cogolin. This result exceeds the far right party’s previous best result in 1995 when they took three municipalities.

At the end of a dreadful night for the Socialists, Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said that the elections were “an opportunity for citizens to send a message. The message is clear; it must be fully understood.” The Prime Minister may well be the first of a number of casualties in a Cabinet reshuffle which is expected to happen today as a result of the election results.

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