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French Locals 2008: First Round by Party

PS: It is incontestable that there was a sharp swing to the left, specifically the Socialists, in the first round. The PS gained Rouen and Laval by the first round, Delanoe won over 40% in Paris, Collomb was re-elected in Lyon by the first round, and the PS is threateningly close to the UMP in Marseille. In Strasbourg, Caen, Amiens, Reims, Colombes and other cities, the PS came first, beating the UMP or centrist incumbent. Finally, in Toulouse, the left seems to have the upper hand in the runoff against the UMP incumbent. Also, numerous Socialist mayors were re-elected by the first round, such as Francois Hollande who took 72.25% in Tulle.

UMP: While some predicted a 1977-like rout for the majority, the right resisted generally well. Unexpectedly, they came first in Angers against the PS incumbent and first in Toulouse (where polls predicted a second-place finish). While they did horribly in Lyon and badly in Paris, in smaller cities the right resisted well against a pink wave. In fact, Laurent Wauquiez gained Le Puy-en-Velay in Haute-Loire from the PS and Luc Chatel did likewise in Chaumont, Haute-Loire. The UMP also has a chance to pick up cities like Calais, Saumur, or Belfort. Internal divisions prevented the UMP from first round victories in cities like Nice, Boulogne-Billancourt, Versailles, or Neuilly.

MoDem: The results of the MoDem are a mixed bag. While they did well in cities like Rennes, Quimper, Arras, Saint-Etienne, Saint-Brieuc, or Paris the MoDem came second in its leader’s hometown, Pau and got mediocre results in Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg, Nice, or Toulouse. In Paris the MoDem can maintain itself in only 3 runoffs (5, 7, 14). Incumbent MoDem mayors did well, Vanlerenberghe was re-elected with over 55%, even though some had predicted his defeat. In Saint-Brieuc, the capital of the Cotes-d’Armor and a very left-wing city, Bruno Joncour took with 44.7% and improved his score over 2001!

Communist Party: The Communists resisted, in most cases, formidably well to both its perennial decline and PS-prompted primaries. In the “9-3 primaries” where PCF mayor also faced PS candidates, the Communists resisted well and are favoured, in most cases, to hold the towns in the runoffs. In La Courneuve, the Communist mayor led the Socialists by about 10%; in Saint-Denis or Bagnolet it led by 20%. It was closer in Aubervilliers where the runoff is between the PCF-PS-MoDem-UMP. The Communists, with their 36-year old candidate, S├ębastien Jumel, gained Diepp, a city lost in 2001. The Communists also gained Vierzon. However, the Communists are also facing difficulties, in cities like Calais, or in the general council of Seine-Saint-Denis, where the Socialist Claude Bartolone is poised to replace the Communist leadership of the department.

Greens: The Greens, which were counting on the elections to revive their chances did OK. While they saw their vote in Paris halved compared to their 12% in 2001; the party got 19% in Valence, 11.6% in Lille, 11.1% in Montpellier, and 16.8% in Quimper. In most of these cases, or all of these cases, the Greens are likely to merge with the Socialist list as they already did in Paris. In Saumur, however, where the Green mayor was re-elected by the first round in 2001, the right has a definite chance at a pickup.

FN: After a disastrous year in 2007, March 2008 was not much better for the FN. His daughter was far behind the unpopular PS incumbent in Henin-Beaumont and the party did horribly in its former strongholds (such as Nice, where they got only 4.2%). The FN score rose a bit in Marseille, where it is qualified for the runoff in the Marseille-7 sector against the UMP and the PS. In Toulon, a city in FN/MNR hands until 2001, the FN candidate polled 6.55%; in Megret’s Vitrolles, the FN was eliminated with its 9.74%. In some regions, the FN did not even run candidates, such as in Brittany. It was eligible for 40 runoffs in cities with 30,000+ population in 2001, the FN is eligible for only 7 in 2008. The FN is in the runoff in Calais (where it may merge with the UMP to defeat the PCF), Mulhouse (against Bockel and the PS), and Perpignan (a four-way runoff, UMP-PS-DVG-FN).

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