In the by-election to fill Jérôme Cahuzac's seat in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, the UMP beat the Front National by 53.76 to 46.24%. The strong showing by the FN is a warning to both parties that the center is not holding. One assumes that in this former Socialist stronghold, part of the UMP vote in the second round comes from Socialists seeking to block the FN, which may well now be the strongest party in the district.
It's never wise to overinterpret the vote in any by-election, especially one in which the incumbent was forced to resign by scandal. But the results here compound worries that the Socialists have lost their way, having ceased to exist as a party and become merely a mouthpiece for the government. Harlem Désir has come in for particular criticism.