So much for turning to conservatives in times of fiscal crisis: For the first time in 50 years, the Socialists have taken over the upper house of French government. Sarkozy’s conservative government just got served.
The Guardian reported on the country’s indirect elections thusly:
“Seven months before presidential elections, Sarkozy’s party downplayed what it said was a narrow win – up to three seats, according to officials from the president’s party.
The minister for parliamentary relations, Patrick Ollier, said the results had ‘no national political significance.’ Final results of the voting to fill half the seats in the 348-seat house were not in, but the Socialist party leader in the Senate announced the victory.
‘This is a day that will mark history,’ Jean-Pierre Bel, head of the Senate’s Socialist party, said.”
Soo… big deal, or no big deal?
Well… The Senate/upper house is a 17th-century palace in the Luxembourg gardens, and is often mocked for not really having much of an influence on anything. Rubber stamps are supposedly the specialty there, although the upper house can both initiate bills and slow down their passage. The right wing had been in control of the upper house since 1958.
What does this new development mean for France’s political landscape?
Reuters went a little overboard with the editorializing, describing the left as “howling with joy” over the victory, but the analysis is solid:
“A left-leaning Senate will not be able to derail Sarkozy’s legislative plans but the loss of a longstanding bastion for the right is a symbolic setback especially when taken together with his persistently poor poll ratings.
Sarkozy has become slightly more popular in the past few months, but he remains one of the least well-liked presidents in post-war France and faces a tough battle for reelection in a two-round vote scheduled for next April.
French voters are depressed about their economic prospects, unemployment remains stubbornly high and a European debt crisis has invited intensive scrutiny of France’s public finances.
Such worries have overshadowed Sarkozy’s foreign policy victories, notably France’s role in the toppling of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.”
Cheers to 2012, everyone.
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