Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Sarkozy Wins, But French Socialists Gain
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Monday, June 18, 2007
-- French socialists made a surprise come-back on Sunday, stopping what
some were calling a Sarkozy "tsunami" from sweeping over the French
After the first round of the
legislative elections last week, President Sarkozy's center-right Union
for the Presidential Majority (UMP) had been expected to win upwards of
400 seats in parliament, a stunning 80% majority.
But the second round results on
Sunday trimmed those gains dramatically, as the French socialists and
even the French communist party made a strong comeback.
Sarkozy's party maintained the
absolute majority it enjoyed in the outgoing parliament, giving it
unquestioned power to push through the new president's ambitious agenda
of tax reform and cut-backs of France's extensive social welfare
In a post-election survey, 37% of the
French population said their highest priority for the incoming
parliament was the abolition of onerous inheritance taxes.
The first victim of the Socialist
comeback was Alain Juppé, a former prime minister who was banned
from politics for one year after a conviction on corruption charges.
President Sarkozy named Juppe
minister of environment and sustainable development in his first
post-election government, but also insisted that he would call his
government from elected members of parliament.
When he learned on Sunday evening
that he had been defeated in his attempt to win a seat in parliament,
Juppe announced on live television that he would resign his cabinet
While drama hit the right, comedy swept the left.
Socialist party secretary general
Francois Hollande gloated Sunday night over his election victory,
noting that he had refused suggestions from members of his own party to
form an election alliance with the newly-created center-left party of
presidential candidate, Francois Bayrou.
Bayrou's party, Modem, barely
succeeded in entering parliament with just 4 seats, whereas Hollande's
socialists won more than 200 seats.
An additional 19 seats went to the
communists, who been predicted to win just 5 seats in the polls, and 4
to the Greens, giving the leftist alliance 234 in all.
But the comedy came from Hollande's own household.
Hollande's wife, Segolene Royale, was defeated by Sarkozy in last month's presidential election.
Hollande and Royale got married last
summer, after living together for 26 years and having four children
together. Wags in the press called it an alliance of convenience.
The French press made much of their
political rivalry, noting that Royale's most serious competitor for the
Socialist nomination for president was her own husband. Hollande
renounced his presidential ambitions after a family vacation last
summer, the couple revealed during the recent campaign.
On Sunday night, shortly after
Hollande left the television studios, Royale announced that she would
challenge her husband again, this time running against him to become
the next secretary general of the Socialist party.
When the news was announced just two
hours after the polls closed, French men and women following the
election results in public places and cafes across Paris broke out in
"Next step is divorce," one woman announced.
"Who's going to stay home and take care of the kids?" another joked.
Despite a light rain earlier in the
day, crowds began to gather on café terraces after 11 PM,
laughing and poking fun at the Socialist first couple.
Royale surprised some supporters
after her defeat in the presidential election by not running for a
legislative seat, even though she was president of the Poitou-Charente
region that includes Bordeaux.
In France, politicians can hold several elected positions simultaneously, so running for parliament was expected.
With her announcement, following the
Socialist comeback, that was seeking the party leadership, a position
whose influence can be measured by sheer numbers of legislators, Royale
was showing that her appetite for power was undiminished.
Later in the evening, French TF1 television reported that she also had announced that she was leaving her husband.
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