Sunday, March 9, 2008

Summary of First Round Results


Sanction or Siren Call?

The Left has done well in the first round of the municipal elections, collecting about 47 percent of the vote nationwide, against about 40 percent for the Right. But what do the results mean, and how should the Left capitalize on its gains. Ségolène Royal's position is clear: wherever possible the Left should forge an alliance with MoDem. She is clearly signaling her intention to pull the Socialist Party toward the center, where she saw her best hope of winning in the last presidential election and evidently still sees her best chance of winning both in the next and in the impending struggle for party leadership. Of course the MoDem is not the only organized political entity in the center of the political spectrum. There is also Nouveau Centre. But MoDem offers the tactical advantage of having declared itself, through François Bayrou, to be openly anti-Sarkozyste.

As a political force, however, Bayrou may be a spent round. He is even in difficulty in his own fief, Pau. His strength derived from his being neither Ségo nor Sarko, and it is hard to see how Ségo can turn that ni-ni-ness into a trump in her own hand. At the same time, she has handed her enemies in the PS a card that can be played against her: the meaning of an alliance with MoDem is at best murky in terms of actual policy or political reorientation of the party. Fabius has not been slow to wield this weapon, and others will surely follow.