Destinations Magazine

Ménage à Trois

By Stizzard
Ménage à trois

SOMETIMES small elections are markers of major political change. France’s latest vote, a two-round ballot on March 22nd and 29th to elect deputies to the 98 assemblies of France’s “departments”, may well turn out to be just such an election. On the face of it, the outcome will be a straightforward victory for the centre-right, led by Nicolas Sarkozy, a former president. In reality, it marks a shift in France from alternating two-party politics to a more fluid tripartite system.

The first element in this new political order is the performance of the populist National Front (FN), with its anti-immigration, anti-Europe and anti-establishment message. The party’s combative leader, Marine Le Pen, had hoped it would come top in first-round voting and become, in her words, “the first party of France”. In the end, Mr Sarkozy’s UMP scored 29%, while the FN finished second with 25%, short of the triumph she had hoped for.

For some commentators, this amounted to a defeat. Manuel Valls, the Socialist prime minister whose party came third with 21%, reportedly lit a cigar to celebrate the FN’s failure to place first. It was, he said, an “…

The Economist: Europe


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