Europe 2009: France

This is my second post on the European elections in France, being held on June 7. In my first post, I outlined the candidates for the main parties, where information was available.

The full list of Left Front candidates:

Île de France: Patrick Le Hyaric (PCF), PCF leader in the Morbihan and director of L’Humanité. Led the PCF list in the Ouest in 2004.
Nord-Ouest: Jacky Hénin (PCF), MEP for the Nord-Ouest, former Mayor of Calais.
Sud-Ouest: Jean-Luc Mélenchon (PG), whiny sod. PG leader and PG Senator for Essonne.
Ouest: Jacques Généreux (PG), anti-liberal leftie economist.
Massif Central-Centre: Marie-France Beaufils (PCF). PCF Senator for Indre-et-Loire and Mayor of Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, industrial suburb of Tours
Est: Hélène Franco (PG)
Sud-Est: Marie-Christine Vergiat (DVG), leader of the Human Rights League in Seine-Saint-Denis

In the DOM-TOM constituency, the Left supports a “independent” Overseas Rally list which includes Madeleine de Grandmaison, MEP. Grandmaison was the second name on the 2004 Overseas Rally list led by the Reunionese Communist Party (PCR) leader Paul Vergès which won 28% of the vote in the constituency and one seat. Vergès resigned his seat in 2007, giving it to Grandmaison. The list is led by another PCR pol, Elie Houarau, a former MP.

The negotiations with the Alternatifs and the MRC have failed, but the Left will include the Christian Picquet’s pro-union NPA faction, represented by Michèle Ernis (number 2 in Nord-Ouest), and the CAP, a smallish party founded in 1994 by reformist Communists, ecosocialists, Trots and the like. It’s relevant in the Val-de-Marne and Haute-Vienne. Patrick Charles of CAP will be number 2 in the Massif Central-Centre.

The Movement for France (MPF) and the Hunters (CPNT) are now the French section of the Europarty Libertas. This decision was not well received by everybody, including certain members inside Philippe de Villier’s MPF. While the MPF hasn’t used the Gaullist name a whole lot, it’s former ally,  Charles Pasqua’s Rally for France (RPF) did and most of the MPF’s Euro voter base is probably made up of traditionalist anti-Euro Gaullists. Gaullism, staunchly nationalist and anti-Atlanist and also quite statist (despite supporting strongly neo-liberal policies at times, in the 1980s) economically, is in direct opposition to Declan Ganley’s strong Atlantist and neo-liberal feeelings. While de Villiers himself used to be a member of the Republican Party, the liberal component of the old UDF, he now favours “European protectionism”. While this appears on Libertas France’s website, along with opposition to France’s re-integration into NATO, French voters don’t have access to Libertas Europe’s website, which apparently states quite different things. Despite this hypocrisy, voters don’t care about this and most MPF voters probably don’t know about Libertas and Declan Ganley (Ganley happily plays along, acting as a protectionist anti-NATO in France and enthusiastic pro-American flag-waver in Ireland and elsewhere). Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s Arise the Republic (DLR), which claims to be Gaullist, will poll very poorly. Below are the Libertas candidates:

Sud-Est: Patrick Louis (MPF), MEP
Nord-Ouest: Frédéric Nihous (CPNT), leader of CPNT
Île-de-France: Jérôme Rivière (MPF), former UMP deputy for Alpes-Maritimes-1
Ouest: His Excellency the Viscount, Philippe Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon (MPF), MEP
Sud-Ouest: Eddie Puyjalon (CPNT), leader of some sort
Est: Christophe Beaudouin (MPF), former RPR, UMP, DLR
Massif Central-Centre: Véronique Goncalvès (MPF)
DOM-TOM: Erika Kuttner-Perreau (MPF)

The far-right National Front (FN) candidates:

Nord-Ouest: Marine Le Pen, MEP (Île de France)
Est: Bruno Gollnisch, MEP
Ouest: Brigitte Neveux, FN candidate in the 2004 regional elections in Bretagne
Île de France: Jean-Michel Dubois, Île de France regional councillor
Massif Central-Centre: Patrick Bourson
Sud-Ouest: Louis Aliot
Sud-Est: Jean-Marie Le Pen, MEP

Carl Lang, FN MEP for the Nord-Ouest will run a dissident FN list called “Parti de la France” (PDF) and Jean-Claude Martinez, FN MEP for the Sud-Ouest will run a dissident FN list supported by the PDF. The FN will not run a list in the Outre-Mer region.

I posted the Green-Europe Ecologie candidates in my last post, but we’ve got new Greenies on our radar. This is the Independent Ecological Alliance (AEI). The AEI is the other ecolo alliance formed by Waechter’s centrist MEI, the remnants of Lalonde’s Ecology Generation (GE, once the main French green party with the Greenies themselves) and the France en action scientologist/raëlian kooky sect. Its candidates include Waechter (East) and a slightly insane old signer, Francis Lalanne in the South-West. Before people go crazy over the AEI, a few notes. On the 23rd spot on Lalanne’s list is Jean Brière, a former Greenie expelled for being anti-semitic and I think holocaust denier. People have also accused Waechter and the MEI of being closet far-rightists. He’s also very egomaniacal, even by French standards.

The UMP was the last major party to finalize their full lists. The UMP took a long time because the UMP is run by Nicolas Sarkozy and he does the lists, more or less. In addition, the UMP has needy allies to please, most notably the New Centre, which stood no chance alone. I show only the top 5 in each region.

Sud-Est:

1 – Françoise Grossetete (Loire): MEP
2 – Damien Abad: President of the Young Centrists. NC
3 – Dominique Vlasto (Bouches du Rhône): MEP
4 – Gaston Franco (Alpes-Maritimes): Former RPR deputy
5 – Nora Berra (Rhône): Candidate in 2004 (5th spot)

Nord-Ouest:

1 – Dominique Riquet (Nord): Mayor of Valenciennes. Radical
2 – Tokia Saifi (Nord): MEP. Radical

3 – Jean-Paul Gauzes: MEP
4 – Pascale Gruny (Aisne): Saint-Quentin municipal councillor
5 – Philippe Boulland (Oise): Oise general councillor

Île-de-France:

1 – Michel Barnier: Minister of Agriculture
2 – Rachida Dati (Paris): Minister of Justice, Paris municipal councillor and Mayor of Paris-7
3 – Jean-Marie Cavada (Paris): MEP, NC/ACDE
4 – Marielle Gallo (Paris): Modern Left
5 – Philippe Juvin (Hauts-de-Seine): Mayor of Garenne-Colombes and VP of the CG92.

Ouest:

1 – Christophe Bechu (Maine et- Loire): President of the Maine-et-Loire General Council
2 – Elisabeth Morin (Vienne): MEP, Poitou-Charentes regional councillor (ex-President)
3 – Alain Cadec (Côtes d’Armor): Côtes d’Armor general councillor. Adjoint to the MoDem Mayor of Saint-Brieuc
4 – Agnès le Brun (Finistère): Mayor of Morlaix and Finistère general councillor.
5 – Bruno Drapron (Charente-Maritime): Saintes municipal councillor. NC

Sud-Ouest:

1 – Dominique Baudis (Haute-Garonne): Former UDF Mayor of Toulouse and deputy. 1994 UDF-RPR list top candidate.
2 – Christine de Veyrac (Haute-Garonne): MEP, President of the UMP Fed in Haute-Garonne
3 – Alain Lamassoure (Pyrénées-Atlantiques): MEP
4 – Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmidt (Pyrénées-Orientales): Adjointe to the Mayor of Perpignan
5 – Franck Proust (Gard): Gard general councillor

Est:

1 – Joseph Daul (Bas-Rhin): MEP, President of the EPP-ED Parliamentary Group
2 – Véronique Mathieu (Vosges): MEP, Radical ex-CPNT
3 – Arnaud Danjean (Saône-et-Loire): Ran against Arnaud Montebourg in ’07.
4 – Michèle Striffler (Haut-Rhin): Adjointe to the Mayor of Mulhouse. Modern Left.
5 – Benjamin Develey (Marne): Reims municipal councillor

Massif Central-Centre:

1 – Jean-Pierre Audy (Corrèze): MEP
2 – Sophie Auconie (Indre-et-Loire): Tours municipal councillor. NC
3 – Brice Hortefeux (Puy-de-Dôme): Minister of Labour, Auvergne regional councillor (former MEP and top candidate in 2004)
4 – Catherine Soullie (Loiret)
5 – Jean-Yves Hugon (Indre): Former deputy

DOM-TOM:

Marie-Luce Penchard (Atlantic candidate and ‘top candidate’)
Yolaine Costes (Indian Ocean candidate)
Maurice Ponga (Pacific candidate)

The UMP managed to please its allies with the spots they were promised or demanded. The NC managed to get a good spot for Damien Abad in the Sud-Est. They also got eligible spots in IdF with Cavada and a third one in the Massif-Centre. The Radicals managed to the top two spots in the Nord-Ouest and the second spot in the East. For the Modern Left, only Striffler and Gallo could win seats. 2 MEPs for such a small party would be excellent. The Progressives of Eric Besson gets only a thirteenth spot in IDF, though Xavier Bertrand insists that it’s because Besson didn’t ask for more. The Forum of Social Republicans, Christine Boutin’s joke party got seventh spot in IdF.

The UMP has been transforming into a bit of a French version of the Italian Popolo della Libertà (Berlusconi’s power-machine) with Sarkozy’s quasi-complete control over the party and plastering his face on electoral posters (a la Berlusconi).

The Socialists were able to prevent yet another civil war from erupting over the lists in the Centre region, which voters in the Limousin had rejected. In the end, Laurent Lafaye, the general secretary of the PS federation in Haute-Vienne got third spot over the Mayor of Aurillac in the Cantal (Auvergne). Not that it really matters, since the PS will have to fight to keep the third seat. The PS campaign has failed to gain any speed, and its attempts to incite people to vote “usefully” have failed epically, partly because this is an election by proportional representation. As always, the Socialists have turned to their usual empty rhetoric about l’Europe sociale and la république sociale (yes, despite the uhm, connotations of the term Social Republic).

The MoDem could emerge quite happy out of these elections, due to a variety of factors. On one hand, Bayrou’s hyprocrisy actually convinces some, as Bayrou the centrist is now showing himself off as Bayrou the historical Gaullist. Of course, the French centre has been the most pro-European and pro-NATO party since the days of the Fourth Republic, and the French centre (called the Democratic Centre, CD, back then) voted in favour of a Socialist no-confidence motion presented in response to Charles de Gaulle’s decision to withdraw from the NATO command in 1966 (which France has recently rejoined of course, in the largest ball of hypocrites since I don’t know when). Bayrou, who, as JibJab would say, offers more waffles than a house of pancakes, escapes from scrutiny as a flip-flopper, liar, and hypocrite since the media likes the anti-establishment rebel. Even if said rebel was a proponent of the pensée unique during the 1990s. Of course, the MoDem’s success is not only based on Bayrou. The MoDem has kept the voter base of the old UDF, while the parliamentary caucus is now largely New Centre-UMP. In addition, it has profited from the isolation of the old Christian democrats within the UMP, the internal struggles within the PS, and the left-wards trends of the Greenies (and by consequence losing their centrist voters to the MoDem).

There are a ton of other parties running in this election, parties which nobody hears about. Notably, the Basque EAJ-PNV-PNB is running the Sud-Ouest, and there is also a Batasuna (aka ETA) list there. In the Ouest, the Breton Party, a centrist/social liberal party supporting Bretagne’s independence from France is running. In a number of regions, the old National Centre of Independents and Peasants (CNI) is running independently, a first since probably the ’60’s. The CNI, which used to be the main right-wing party in France between 1945 and 1960 was destroyed by Gaullism and has since fluctuated between the actual far-right and the right-wing of the right. For example, it elected a number of MPs on the FN’s lists in 1986 but developed a close alliance with the RPR shortly thereafter and was an “associate party” of the UMP. Meaning a fringe party which isn’t UMP but nobody knows or cares about. The Liberal Alternative (AL), a libertarian/classical liberal outfit is running in all regions (as far as I know). The Royal Alliance (AR), a souverainiste Royalist party which polled 0.03% is running everywhere, providing some people with a good laugh. In Ile-de-France, the anti-semite/anti-zionist “humourist” Dieudonne is running a “anti-Zionist” thingee.

Apart from these, you have your usual maniacs running. This long list includes Stalinists, official joke candidates, weed-legalization outfits, Humanists, people who want a negative economic growth, and anti-politician outfits.

On a side note, political parties must print their own ballots as they are not provided by the state. Despite running, certain parties are unable to print these ballots and they tell their voters to download them off the interwebs, print them, and cut them out according to the official regulations. The European elections are also an arts-and-crafts project! For example, the Royalists only offer their ballots online since they have no money. The Breton Party will have ballots in all five Breton departments and offers voters in other departments in the constituency to print them out.

Polls have been coming out like crazy these past few days, but I’ve got my preferred stock of pollsters. I usually post the polls on Wikipedia personally, so you can look there for all polls. Here are the pollsters divided into categories of how good they are (or not).

  1. Ipsos, no questions asked, is the constant top pollster, despite problems here and there.
  2. Ifop is quality, though they’ve been coming out with weird numbers this season. Below this, you see a marked drop in quality.
  3. TNS-Sofres and BVA. Both are okayish-to-mediocre pollsters, with rather mixed records. TNS-Sofres has been going downhill in recent years.
  4. OpinionWay is often favourable to the right. It does its polls for Le Figaro, a right-wing daily.
  5. LH2 and Viavoice, which are close to the left. Both are rather untested.
  6. CSA. Total junk. Its last poll in April 2007 was total junk, and they show no signs of improvement. They significantly overestimate the far-right nowadays, due to them using unholy weighting techniques to avoid a new 2002 humiliation.

The latest Ipsos poll:

Ipsos, compared to their last poll.

UMP 26% (-2)
PS 20% (-2)
MoDem 13% (+2)
Greenies 10.5% (+0.5)
NPA 7% (nc)
Libertas 6% (nc)
FN 5.5% (+0.5)
Left Front 5% (nc)
LO 2% (nc)
DLR 1% (nc)
All Others (AEI, AL, PdF, CNI) 4% (+1)

Major parties always tend to drop in the last few days. In 2004, the PS dropped from about 30-32% to 28-29% (its actual result) and the UMP dropped from 20-22% to 16-17% (actual result was 16.6%). Smaller parties are the main benefactors of this drop. Euros are the only elections in France where average turnout is below 50%. In 2004, 57% abstained (the highest rate ever) and is unlikely to show any drop this year. In fact, it will only continue its current drop, and abstention will probably break 60% this year.

In regards to this poll, I think the Left Front (PCF-PG) will be the main surprise in this election and I would certainly not be shocked if they ended up ahead of the NPA. The Left Front has led a modern, dynamic, and interesting campaign. However, the PCF, despite being an anti-EU party (anti-European voters being the most likely to abstain), the PCF’s old voter base, albeit much reduced these days, has above-average turnout in every election and should be no different this time. On the other hand, the NPA is probably the most volatile of all electorates and also the most likely to stay home. In addition, the PCF maintains the remnants of a long-standing close relationship with industrial and manual workers, and the economic crisis should improve the PCF’s standing in that category. The French Trotskysts, on the other hand, have never attracted mass labour, and Besancenot’s ways are more and more unpopular, workers see him as exploiting their problems for his own personal gain. Lastly, while the Left has led a good campaign, the same can’t be said of the NPA. Their candidates are a bunch of political novices and nobodies, and the NPA is more interested by acting like clowns in the streets than electing MEPs.

I will shock people with this hypothesis now. Electorally, given the method of PR used here (highest averages) the real threshold is actually 6% (in the largest seats) and probably something like 15% in the 3-seat Outre-Mer (and around 10% in the Massif-Centre) in most seats. The NPA not getting any seats due to the PCF polling strongly, the LO acting as a spoiler, and a ton of other problems wouldn’t surprise me much. Though I still think they’ll get something, 0 NPA MEPs would not be surprising, really. In a number of regions, they’ll be fighting the PCF-PG to come out on top of that little game, and if the PCF-PG comes out on top in most of these games (in larger constituencies), the NPA will be killed. If, on the other hand, the NPA has a good night (unlikely) and the PCF-PG trails them in most regions, then the Left could be killed.

I don’t think any of the small lists will surprise anyone. The plethora of angry raving Gaullists running here and there will fall flat on their faces. LO will poll 1 or 2 percent though these votes could certainly prevent the NPA from getting the final seat in a few constituencies, especially if the final seat is a close race. The AEI will poll in the 1-2% range, and might steal enough votes from Greenies in some places to prevent them from getting a seat. The performance of the We Hate Marine Le Pen gang will be interesting, though they’ll poll pretty badly due to poor name recognition, lack of structure/grassroots, and people not really knowing them (especially in the Nord-Ouest: voters will choose between Marine Le Pen, which they’ve heard of before and Carl Lang, who probably has 2/3 of voters having no clue who he is). The assorted Jew-haters will poll 1% and people will go back to ignoring them, rightfully.

On a side note and little extra, Ifop recently conducted a poll for the Catholic daily La Croix in regards to Catholics (in the French context, meaning observant Catholics) and atheists. Here are th slightly amusing results.

Catholics:

UMP 42%
PS 16%
MoDem 16%
Libertas 14%
Greenies 5%
FN 4%
NPA 1%
PCF-PG 0.5%
LO 0.5%
Others 1%

And now the atheists, also amusing.

PS 24.5%
UMP 16%
MoDem 13%
NPA 12%
Greenies 11%
PCF-PG 11%
FN 6%
LO 3%
Libertas 1%
Others 2.5%

The national poll was UMP 26, PS 21.5, MoDem 14, Greenies 8, FN 7.5, NPA 7.5, Left 6.5, Libertas 5.

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Posted on May 30, 2009, in Election Preview, EU Parliament, France. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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