ISSN 2330-717X

Francois Hollande’s Second Victory – OpEd


By Maxime Gauin

The Socialist Party (PS) controlled already the Presidency and the government since May. The Senate has left-wing majority since September 2011. The majority of the cities and towns of more than 15,000 inhabitants have a left-wing (Socialist in most of the case) since 2008. Among the 26 regional councils France’s European and oversea territories, 23 have a left-wing president (including 20 from the PS) and three from UMP. 61 of the 101 counties have a left-wing majority. Now, there is an absolute majority for the PS and its closest allies in the National Assembly. The PS does not even need the Greens (represented in the cabinet) to have a majority.

An historic success

The situation is unprecedented. In 1981, François Mitterrand was winner in the presidential election and the PS obtained an absolute majority; but the Senate kept a large majority of center-right and conservatives. In 1988, the PS failed to have a comfortable majority in the Assembly. From 1997 to 2002, the Jospin government needed the support of Communists to have majority and Jacques Chirac was President of the Republic.

This success is for a part a personal victory of François Hollande. As first secretary of the PS, he was virtually alone, among the national leaders the party, to bet on a large victory in the local elections of 2004. The success took place, and paved the way to the more recent victories, including in the Senate (since the Senate is elected by the municipal counselors and other local counselors). As a new president, he managed an efficient campaign. Once again, he proved to be wrong those who underestimated him.

The National Assembly is elected by a two-round system, based on electoral district (circonscriptions): one district, one deputy. To be elected as early as the first round in you district, you need to obtain more than 50% of the votes and the support of more than 25% of the registered electors. If nobody obtains such a result, there is a second round, and this time, the candidate who obtains the biggest number of votes is elected. Those who obtained the vote of less than 12.5% of the registered electors cannot participate to the second round.

The map of the results largely confirms the one of the presidential election. The Socialist Party continues its conquest of Paris (only the wealthiest quarters resist) of the west (Bretagne, Normandie) and of the southern part of Massif Central. In Parisian suburb, the Communist Party continues its decline, for the profit of the PS.

New configuration

Symbolically, Stéphane Le Foll, now minister of Agriculture, who had been the closest collaborator of François Hollande for years, is elected (59%) in the district of François Fillon, Nicolas Sarkozy’s Prime minister from 2002 to 2007. Prudently, Mr. Fillon was this time candidate in a wealthy part of Paris where the UMP could present successfully even a person chosen randomly in the telephone directory. Even in the district of Neuilly-sur-Seine, a very rich city of Parisian whose Mr. Sarkozy was mayor from 1983 to 2002, it was an independent candidate who was elected as deputy (this independent had already defeated the UMP candidate in the municipal election of 2008).

Nicolas Sarkozy encouraged the deputies of the right-wing of the UMP to organize themselves in sub-group, the Popular Right (La Droite populaire). The half of these deputies was defeated. It can be noticed that among Popular Right’s most notorious deputies, Richard Mallié, proud to be nicknamed “Mallié the Armenian” and by no means shocked to be called a Turkophobe, was defeated by the Green candidate, himself backed by the Socialists. Another important member of the Popular Right, Jacques Myard, advocates exactly the opposite positions: he is a member of the Franco-Turkish friendship group, voted against the Boyer bill and was one of two main responsible for the collect of signatures of deputies to go to the National Assembly. Mr. Myard was comfortably reelected.

Also in the UMP, Nadine Morano, ex-protégée and ex-minister of Nicolas Sarkozy, who tried to seduce the electors of the National Front (FN) in saying that she shares their values was defeated in humiliating conditions. On the other hand, the ex-minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who said always that she would vote for a Socialist rather than for a FN candidate, if she would be forced to chose, was reelected.

These facts prove to be wrong the radically rightist strategy of Mr. Sarkozy during the second half of his presidency (2010-2012) and even more during the campaign of 2012. That is why an increasing number of personalities in the UMP criticize this strategy as an error.

Similarly, Marine Le Pen failed to be elected as a deputy. Thanks to the two-ballots, constituency system, the FN has only two deputies. One of them (Gilbert Collard) stressed during and after the campaign that he is simply endorsed by the National Front and not a member of this political party. Making a speech in front of the hard-liners of the FN, he began by these words: “I hate racism. I hate it!” The other FN deputy, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, is only 22 years old.

Turkey and the citizens of Turkish origin

The French electors of Turkish heritage were more mobilized than in 2007, in the continuity with the movement against the Boyer law. Not surprisingly, most of the friends of Turkey in the Socialist Party were reelected, for instance Gwendal Rouillard, a firm opponent to the Boyer bill and an advocate of Franco-Turkish military cooperation. In addition, some new Socialist deputies were elected thanks to the massive vote of the electors of Turkish heritage (for instance, Yves Goasdoué, who is now a member of the Law committee).

Among the UMP deputies, these electors helped the reelection of Yves Jégo (who has even inaugurated an Aydın street in his city) and Denis Jacquat (a staunch supporter of Turkish candidacy to European Union). Reciprocally, they provided a decisive contribution to the defeat of Éric Raoult and Jacques Remiller, two of the traditional supporters of the Armenian nationalists’ claims in the National Assembly. In Alsace, their support was not sufficient for Jean-Philippe Maurer, who was previously vice-chairman of the Franco-Turkish friendship group, but the Socialists of Alsace are mostly favorable to the Turks.

Three big disappointments remain. An insufficient mobilization of the constituent of Turkish heritage led to the defeat of Jack Lang, former Socialist minister of Culture (1981-1986; 1986-1993) and National Education (1992-1993; 2000-2002), who was increasingly pro-Turkish during the last years; and to the reelection of François Rochebloine, a tool of the Armenian nationalists. Last but not least, there was an unbelievable passivity of the Turkish side for the case of Michel Diefenbacher (UMP), chairman of the Franco-Turkish friendship group, who made a speech against the Boyer bill, voted against and eventually collected signatures together with Jacques Myard and some other deputies. There is not a single constituent of Turkish origin in his district, but the big Franco-Turkish community of Bordeaux is only from a half-hour by train. What did they do for his campaign? Mr. Diefenbacher said in February that whatever happens in June, he wants to continue to work for better Franco-Turkish relations. It would be only logical for the Turkish side to provide him all the means to do so.

Conclusion: free hands, big challenges

François Hollande is now both in a comfortable situation to apply his reforms and in a difficult position due to the international, economical and financial context. Unlike Barack Obama, he has not to fear for his majority in the National Assembly, since the deputies are elected, like him, for five years. It is now up to him to re-create what he called “the French dream”.

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JTW - the Journal of Turkish Weekly - is a respected Turkish news source in English language on international politics. Established in 2004, JTW is published by Ankara-based Turkish think tank International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

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