French parliamentary election 2007
Article added on June 19, 2007
The French parliamentary election
ended with a solid majority for
President Sarkozy and
Prime Minister Fillon. However, it fell short of a landslide win to be
expected over the two-third majority of the seats.
There are several reasons for the underperformance in the second round of
the parliamentary election 2007. First, there was the awkwardness of the
Minister of Economy, Finance and Employment, Jean-Louis Borloo, who
mentioned after the first parliamentary round the possibility of a rise of
the VAT. Although President Sarkozy intervened and stressed the conditions
under which such a rise would take place, the Socialists and the other
opposition parties finally had a point of attack, which they exploited in a
populist manner. The president's word visible was not enough to calm the
anxiety of certain voters.
Second, the government decided not to raise the minimum wage (smic)
above the rate of inflation. This decision disappointed the French poor.
Third, the Socialists and other voters of the left, afraid of landslide win
of the right - a blue tsunami was the clever slogan - could mobilize
their base better than the right. Last but not least, some French voters
thought that France needed a strong opposition in order to counterbalance
the parties in power.
The official results of the French parliamentary election 2007 published by
the French minister of the Interior. Total seats in the French National
Assembly: 577. The UMP of President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Fillon: 313
seats; the Centrists who joined the presidential majority: 22 seats;
“DVD divers droite”
miscellaneous right wing members of parliament with no party affiliation: 9
seats; the Movement for France: 1. In total,
“Presidential majority” can count on 345 seats. The opposition: the
Socialist Party of Ségolène Royal and François Hollande: 186 seats; the
French Communist Party: 15 seats;
“DVG divers gauche”
miscellaneous left-wing members of parliament with no party affiliation: 15
seats; the Left Radical Party: 7 seats; the Green Party: 4 seats. Total of
“United Left”: 227 seats.
The UDF Democratic Movement of François Bayrou 3 seats; Regionalists and
Separatists: 1 seat; the right-wing National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen: 0
The UMP, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Fillon have no reason to cry
victory. The UMP has governed for the past five years and President Chirac
has been in place for 12 years. They have left too much unfinished business.
In France, one out of five people employed works for the state. This means
5.1 million state employees. Sarkozy has promised to tackle the problem by
replacing only one out of two retiring state employees.
On other fronts, the future looks grim. One of Chirac's most loyal power
base have been the French farmers. They are highly subsidized. Until not so
many years ago, half of the budget of the European Union was spent on
agriculture. One could also have burned all the money in a public place in
Brussels. Although the situation has slightly improved, still far too much
money is wasted on agricultural subsidies. The worst: Nicolas Sarkozy has
committed himself to continue Chirac's policy. Hopefully, the new French
president and his new government will soon realize that they as well as the
French and European taxpayers could save billions by simply abandoning the
fruitless policy of subsidies.
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The election results brought two other surprises: the Socialist presidential
Ségolène Royal announced her break-up with
Socialist party leader François Hollande. The super-minister for
ecology in the first Government Fillon, the French Prime Minister of 1995 to
1997, Alain Juppé, was defeated in Bordeaux.
He was the only governmental casualty in the 2007 French parliamentary
election. Since President Sarkozy had announced that all members of the
cabinet unable to win a seat would have to resign, Alain Juppé stepped down.
In a certain sense, Alain Juppé was the last victim of the “system Chirac”.
In part, he had to pay for his involvement in the scandal of fictitious
employees paid by the mayor of Paris (a certain Jacques Chirac at the time),
who in reality were employees of the center-right party of Chirac. Juppé was
the scapegoat for Chirac who, as president, enjoyed immunity. Juppé had
already been convicted in the case of the fictitious jobs and had had to
cross the political desert. He was convicted and sentenced to an
eighteen-month suspended jail sentence, the deprivation of civic rights for
five years and was ineligible for office for ten years. After his appeal
against the harsh decision, his ineligibility for office was reduced to one
year and the suspended sentence reduced to fourteen months.
Unfortunately, Alain Juppé has not really learned the lesson and was
punished by the voters because he thought he could be both, a key minister in
the cabinet Fillon and the Mayor of the important city of Bordeaux. In a close
election, the voters have decided differently and shown Juppé the limits of
the arrogance of power. It is a pity, because he was a brilliant man, in
Chirac's own words: he was
“the brightest among us”. [Added on June 19, 2007 at 21.30 Paris time: Alain
Juppé has decided not to quit politics but to hold on to his office as Mayor
Sarkozy and Fillon reacted quickly and appointed the Minister of Economy,
Finance and Employment, Borloo, as Juppé's successor. Christine Lagarde, the
Minister of Agriculture, got the former job of Borloo. In total, Sarkozy and
Fillon appointed some 16 new state employees, still in the spirit of
overture towards the center and the left.
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