Monday, March 17, 2008

Brownian Motion

So I've read the press and the comments on the blog, consulted the map, and perused the tables. The Left picked up 38 large cities and wants to read this as a national mandate; the Right lost Toulouse and Périgueux and Amiens and Metz and Caen yet wants to read this as a national mandate to accelerate its reforms, and the Wall Street Journal agrees.

As an erstwhile physicist, I see random fluctuations. It's like the quantum theory of magnetism. In various places the temperature has risen a little, and spins once aligned to the right have come unstuck. In other places a minor fluctuation in the ambient field has flipped the spin alignment to the left. Averaging over the entire hexagonal domain there's been a slight leftward drift.

Did government personalities fare particularly badly? Darcos, Lagarde, Yade and a few others lost; Dati, Estrosi, and Wauquiez won.

The other day someone mentioned the "pothole" effect in local elections: mayors who fill potholes and ensure that the garbage is collected get re-elected, other things equal. Combine this with a few velleities about the way things are going nationally, and you get the sort of mixed picture that emerges from this election. When the noise dies down, not much will have changed. Sarko is a bit chastened--but the approval polls had chastened him already. His party troops are restless, and he has stroked them appropriately in the hope of restoring calm. The Socialists are bucked up a bit, and they surely needed some bucking up. The Communists and the Frontists continue to dwindle together. And the Bourse collapses, which will ensure that this election will be forgotten even more quickly than most.