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Monday, June 17, 2024

The Gaullist Party came out on top in yesterday’s historic election in France

CSMS Magazine Staff WritersIt was a hotly contested election yesterday in France, and as the results were read, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal were the two top vote getters with no surprise. They will compete in the second round of the French presidential election on May 6.Sarkozy, the candidate of the Gaullist Union for a Popular Movement (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, UMP) won the most votes in yesterday’s first round of the election with 31 percent of the ballots cast. Royal, the Socialist Party candidate, received 25.6 percent.François Bayrou, the self-proclaimed “the candidate for a united France” (Union pour la Démocratie Française, UDF) got 18.5 percent, and Jean-Marie Le Pen, the candidate of the far-right National Front, 10.6 percent.Bayrou rose to the polls at the last minutes because a lot of people conceded that Royal was becoming increasingly too weak to beat the arrogant Sarkozy. Many French voters believe Bayrou had a better chance at winning than Royal in the final election.The 78-year-old Le Pen, who hopes to create a France free of immigrants and Jews, did far less than expected. He received 10 percent of the votes, far short of the 15 percent he was continuously rated at during previous polls. His daughter and campaign manager, Marine Le Pen went on France T.V. France 2, saying that Sarkozy’s campaign is responsible for the decline in Le Pen’s votes. “He had stolen our ideas and themes.”Surprisingly enough, the so-called radical left suffered their lowest defeat in history, far lower than what they pulled together in 2002, which was more than 10 percent. They were Arlette Laguiller of Workers Struggle (Lutte Ouvrière, LO), Olivier Besancenot of the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue Communiste révolutionnaire, LCR) and Daniel Gluckstein of the Workers Party (Parti des Travailleurs, PT).One factor that contributed to their defeat was that they made it clear from the beginning that they favored a victory of Royal and regarded their own campaigns only as a means of pressuring the Socialist Party candidate to the left. Marie-George Buffet, who rushed to come on France 2 to ask voters to vote for Ryal, was the candidate of the Communist Party that received 1.9 percent, by far the worst result in the party’s history. Green Party candidate Dominique Voynet did even worse with 1.6 percent. LO’s Arlette Laguiller, who was running her sixth presidential campaign, got only a quarter of her previous vote, with 1.4 percent. Anti-globalisation candidate José Bové received 1.3 percent, and PT-candidate Gérard Schivardi got 0.3 percent.The only exception was Olivier Besancenot of the LCR, who improved his share to 4.2 percent. Besancenot, who is relatively young and an adept speaker, was able to make a certain superficial appeal to students and working class youth.Within less than an hour after the polls closed, all the radical candidates were lining up behind Royal. Buffet, Voynet and Laguiller openly called for a vote for the Socialist Party candidate. In Laguiller’s case, this was a first. In previous elections LO had always refrained from openly supporting the Socialist Party and adapted a passive attitude. Besancenot, while stating his disagreement with Royal’s program, called for a vote for her in order to stop Sarkozy.While the radicals are running after Royal, Royal is running after Sarkozy. Royal made her voters wait for more than two hours before addressing her supporters. She appeared beaten and out of touch with reality. Political commentator Xavier Bernard, declared on France 2 that Royal is losing because she was “too busy running after Sarkozy. She was never able to present her case before the voters. So her message was never heard.” This was the case during the first round, when Royal tried to prove that she is as nationalistic and devoted to law and order as her right-wing opponent.Sarkozy, who is aware that he might loose the election if he is seen as too much of a polarizing figure, paid respect to his adversary and called for a “dignified” campaign and a “debate on ideas,” while at the same time insisting that he and Royal represented two diametrically opposed perspectives.In an attempt to widen his electoral base, Sarkozy appealed to the hard working poor: to “the France that gives a lot and receives nothing,” to “the France that suffers.” He presented himself as the guardian of those “who are afraid” and said he desired a France that is “like a family, where the weakest has the right to be loved as much as the strongest” (la «France qui donne beaucoup et ne reçoit rien», la «France qui souffre,» / «comme une famille où le plus faible a droit à autant d’amour que le plus fort»).The same Sarkozy who as Interior Minister last year sent his police to crack down on poor children of immigrant parents that were rioting against harsh living conditions in France. But Royal’s cry “Long live France” during her speech yesterday once again proves her “obvious continuous adaptation to Sarkozy, with whom she has no fundamental political disagreements.” If anything she will continue to improve Sarkozy’s chances, an arrogant man who is deeply despised and feared by a large majority of the French population.”In CSMS Magazine, we’ll be watching.

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