I've been in New Jersey this weekend, but I returned to find that the European elections have reshaped the political landscape a bit more than I expected. The Socialists' terrible showing will put terrific pressure on Martine Aubry to do something, anything, to revive the party. With the Greens and MoDem nibbling at the PS electorate--vindicating the prognostication I made in my Montreal lecture that the next presidential election would be won in the center--the PS now has a choice: define a credible platform that can appeal to the center or fade into the dust of parties on the left. The gauchiste option--Besancenot's NPA and Mélenchon's Die Linke française--together obtained only 11%, well behind les Verts, who now rival the Socialists as the chief opposition party--quite a remarkable showing.
But the big winner is the UMP. While incumbent parties elsewhere in Europe were generally sanctioned (although Merkel also did reasonably well), Sarkozy has shown that he is still the only French leader who is truly présidentiable. His performance as EU president evidently did not disappoint. And both the FN and the sovereignists fared badly, leaving the UMP largely uncontested on the right. And Bayrou, who had made anti-Sarkozysm the centerpiece of his campaign, was soundly thrashed.
Bernard Girard's comment sums up the reasons for the Greens excellent showing.