France (Legislative) 2012
The first round of legislative elections were held in France on June 10, 2012; with a second round being held on June 17, 2012. All 577 seats in the French National Assembly (Assemblée nationale), the lower house of France’s Parliament, were up for reelection. In the wake of the April 22 and May 6 presidential election, the left aimed to confirm its victory in the presidential election by conquering a legislative majority, necessary to govern.
The French National Assembly is composed of 577 members elected for five-year terms in 577 single-member constituencies. France uses a modified form of runoff voting for legislative elections. These elections will be the first fought under new boundaries, established in 2009 by the first redistricting since 1986.
In each constituency, a candidate must win over 50% of valid votes cast (these are called suffrages exprimés) and over 25% of total registered voters to win by the first round of voting. This means that is possible for a candidate to win over 50% of votes cast but not be deemed elected because he/she has not won over 25% of all potential votes due to high abstention.
In the event that no candidate has been elected by the first round, a runoff is held a week later opposing all candidates who won over 12.5% of registered voters (potential votes), or, in the case that only one or no candidate has won over 12.5% of registered voters, the top two candidates. In the second round, the candidate winning a plurality of the votes is elected. Traditionally, runoffs usually oppose the top two contenders. The rising abstention in legislative elections, reaching 40% in 2007, means that it is increasingly hard for over two candidates to win over 12.5% of all registered voters. However, triangulaires opposing three candidates are quite possible. In 2007, there was only one triangulaire, largely because the far-right National Front (FN), usually the third party which partook in most triangulaires in the past, was crushed at the polls. In 2002, there were 10 triangulaires but in 1997, 79 of runoffs were triangulaires.
I covered the stakes, the parties and the major races in a preview post here.
Data and Analysis
Turnout in the first round was 57.23%, down from 60% in the first round in 2007. This is the lowest first round turnout in any legislative election held in France under universal suffrage. 2007 had already broken the unfortunate record with only 60% turnout in the first round. It is not, however, all that surprising. Since the calendar was shuffled in 2000, the legislative elections have become, for the average voters, much less important than in the past. The perception is that they are mere confirmations of the results of the presidential election a month earlier, like in 2002 or 2007. Their stakes are lower than when they were held independently from presidential elections. Some voters also likely suffer from “electoral overload”, since this is the third time in less than two months that French voters are returning to the polls.
PS 29.36% (+4.63%) winning 22 seats
UMP 27.12% (-12.42%) winning 9 seats
FN 13.60% (+9.31%) winning 0 seats
FG 6.91% (+2.62%) winning 0 seats
EELV 5.46% (+2.21%) winning 1 seat
DVD 3.51% (+1.04%) winning 1 seat
DVG 3.40% (+1.43%) winning 1 seat
NC 2.20% (-0.17%) winning 1 seat
Centre-MoDem 1.76% (-5.85%) winning 0 seats
PRG 1.65% (+0.33%) winning 1 seat
PRV 1.24% (+1.24%) winning 0 seats
Far-left 0.98% (-2.43%) winning 0 seats
Ecologists 0.96% (+0.16%) winning 0 seats
AC 0.60% (+0.6%) winning 0 seats
Regionalists and nationalists 0.56% (+0.05%) winning 0 seats
Others 0.52% (-0.51%) winning 0 seats
Far-right 0.19% (-0.2%) winning 0 seats
Parliamentary Left (PS+DVG+PRG+EELV+FG) 46.78% (+11.22%) winning 25 seats
incl. Presidential Majority (PS+DVG+PRG+EELV) 39.87% (+8.6%) winning 25 seats
Parliamentary Right (UMP+DVD+NC+PRV+AC) 34.67% (-10.91%) winning 11 seats
Before passing any more comments, it is quite important to point out that the results above use the etiquettes used by the Ministry of the Interior in their archaic and shady methods of classifying candidates. I disagree with a lot of their classifications, given that they have classified some NC candidates backed by the UMP as UMP, some DVD candidates as UMP or NC, and continue to group smaller parties of the left and right (MRC, MPF, DLR etc) into the DVG and DVD labels, which also include – in large part – dissident candidates from the UMP or PS. But after all, these are just for play – national numbers are fairly meaningless, especially in the first round. It is only useful and interesting if you group the labels into broader left and right categories, like I have done.
The results of the first round are quite favourable to the left. In this general regard, there were few major surprises at a national level. The left came out with a sizable advantage, and nothing indicates that the left will not have a majority in the new National Assembly – far from it. Any commentary which describes this as an underwhelming result for either the PS or the left is off the mark. 29.4% for the PS alone is nothing to write home about, and 40% for the presidential majority is less than the 45.6% won by the Sarkozyst majority in 2007. However, the combined 40% for the left excluding the FG-PCF is superior to the result of the same parties in 1997 – the last left-wing victory – when these parties took 34.6% combined, or 44.5% with the PCF added. 47% for the left altogether by the first round – it is quite a strong result for the left.
In terms of raw seats, which, at the end of the day when all is said and done is the only thing which matters, it is quite likely that the PS and its closest allies (DVG and PRG) will get over 289 seats, the absolute majority which will allow it to govern alone, without needing to take heed too much of the more demanding Greens. This was Ayrault-Hollande’s goal from day one, and it appears as if they will reach it. I have not yet done my own crunching of numbers seat by seat (given how my predictions were terrible, I doubt anybody will take my predictions seriously!), but from a cursory glance at the main battlegrounds, the PS is in a very strong position.
Of course, the first round is only a dry-run or a series of primaries of sorts before the second round(s) which decide it all. A week is indeed a long time in politics, so it would be unwise to “sell the bear’s skin before killing it”. In 2007, the first round was a massive blue tsunami which allowed the UMP to think that it could easily win over 300-350 seats and totally crush the left. The second round humbled the right, which, albeit saving an absolute majority without too much trouble, faced a resurgent left which conquered a significant number of constituencies. A similar phenomenon happened in 1967, when the left was able to turn a mediocre first round into a successful second round.
Should the left beware of a 1967/2007 repeat, the other way around? It should obviously keep away from triumphalism in the upcoming week, but I feel as if the chances of a 1967/2007 “corrective” which would see a narrower than expected victory for the left in the second round(s) to be small. In 2007, the media narrative coming out of the first round was all about a blue tsunami, a massive majority for the right in the National Assembly and a humiliation for the PS. This narrative, plus Jean-Louis Borloo’s tax-gaffe, contributed to the corrective in the runoff. This year, the narrative will be of a left-wing victory but not of an obliteration of the right. On top of that, the media seems to have decided to only talk about the FN targets and the Royal-Falorni civil war in La Rochelle. The right’s voters are, on the whole, resigned to a left-wing majority, and it is unlikely that a whole slew of right-wingers who did not vote in the first round will miraculously show up to prevent a large left-wing majority. Turnout is unlikely to be significantly higher (or lower) than in the first round at the national level, because nothing indicates that the left’s base will decide to sit out the runoff thinking all is said and done, or that the right’s voters will mobilize spectacularly well.
The UMP was not crushed or obliterated, resisting the onslaught fairly well. Unlike in 1981, it does not seem as if the right’s core voters were demobilized far more than the left’s core voters. Both sides suffered from the major fall in turnout since April-May, but it does not seem as if the right demobilized far more than the left did. This means that the UMP will come out of this in slightly better shape than the RPR-UDF did in 1981. Whether this is a significant advantage for the right in the upcoming reconstruction/civil war is another matter. These elections have, unsurprisingly, very much reopened the old FN question for the right. The current leadership and big thinkers of the UMP seem to believe that the reconquista of power lies with the far-right/populist right rather than the centre/centre-right (whether or not this is true is another matter), and, with things as they currently stand, the UMP will invariably tack hard to the right, in part a desperate bid to quickly kill off any Mariniste/frontiste momentum.
The UMP will lose a few high-profile members, but besides NKM and a few others I might have forgotten, no prominent leadership material will be defeated. Jean-François Copé, François Fillon, Laurent Wauquiez and Xavier Bertrand are favourites to win their respective fights. The UMP knew that it would lose the legislative elections, so its whole semblance of a campaign was a jumbled up defensive effort of saving furniture. With that bad spell soon behind them, the UMP will soon be able to move on to the upcoming leadership war – the much talked about Copé-Fillon showdown.
The FN won 13.6% of the vote. It is, on the whole, quite a disappointing result for the party, after having won 17.9% in the presidential election. While it is a significant improvement on 2007 (which seems to be the FN’s main spin on its result, which is a ridiculously dishonest spin) and even 2002, it falls below the FN’s record 15% in the 1997 legislative elections. However, the FN can content itself with two factoids: its main star candidates did very well, and the FN will keep a strong nuisance power on the UMP. The FN is qualified for 32 theoretical triangulaires and I believe a total of 61 candidates of the FN are qualified for the runoff, in a good number of cases at the UMP’s expense. We’re a long way from the 70+ triangulaires with the FN and the 133 total runoffs with the FN in 1997, but it is still a strong performance for the FN. We will come back to the results for the main FN star candidates a bit later on.
Though the FN’s result is far from spectacular, the outside chance that the FN will win one or more seat and a not insignificant nuisance power on the UMP, will cement the FN’s renewed presence in the political landscape. Its good results will fill up the party’s coffers – public funding for political parties is determined by its results in legislative elections. The FN’s strong performance has had the effect of throwing an explosive grenade in the UMP, by injecting the old issue of “what to do with the FN?” in the reconstruction of the old presidential party.
We have already seen the impact of the FN’s result on the UMP. Nadine Morano, the particularly distasteful attack dog of the UMP, in trouble in her own seat, has openly called on FN voters to vote for her in the runoff, citing shared political values. Two UMP candidates, including an incumbent, who placed third in the first round, have said that they are considering dropping out of their triangulaires in the FN’s favour, to prevent a PS victory. The UMP’s official line on the matter remains the ni-ni, neither PS nor FN. Some UMP moderates, most significantly Chantal Jouanno, have criticized this policy and prefer the old “republican front” strategy with the left against the FN; while some members of the UMP’s right – the famous droite populaire – likely prefer the FN to the PS, either silently or out loud.
The FG won a very disappointing result. While with 6.9% it ends up better than the PCF alone in 2007, it has been totally unable to translate Mélenchon’s presidential campaign momentum into a large number of new votes. Moreover, in terms of seats (which is, again, what counts in the end), the FG will likely be crushed, ending up with a caucus smaller than that of the PCF in 2007 (which had already performed very badly). I would not predict any more than 10-11 seats for the FG in all, a result which, if confirmed on June 17, would be a result beyond horrible for the FG. We had all assumed that the FG vehicle added to Mélenchon’s fairly successful presidential campaign would not only allow the PCF, the FG’s main component in terms of parliamentarians, to save its seat but also to gain new seats. Not only will the FG not gain any more than one or two new seats, it has also lost a good number of the seats it already held. When the FG played offensive, maybe it would have been best served by placing defensive on its own ground!
Like in 1981, the PS-left onslaught did not save the PCF. The FG found itself swept up in a PS dynamic in the first round, whereby left-wing voters, by and large, decided to confirm their May 6 vote by helping Hollande and the PS win an absolute majority on their own. Ultimately, it was this dynamic – the general feeling on the left of “let’s give Hollande his majority” – which marginalized the FG. Mélenchon, on April 22, had been able to speak to a wider electorate than just the core PCF vote, so we should have expected a good part of Mélenchon’s voters – a good number of them being traditional PS voters – to return to their traditional home (the PS) as early as June 10. The FG fooled itself by believing that it could hold the bulk of this vote.
The end result will be that the FG will be obliterated at the legislative level. With 10 seats, it would not have enough members to form a parliamentary group (which requires 15 members) and would likely be forced to look to the MRC (which will win 3-7 seats) and left-wing independents (like the ex-PCR Huguette Bello in La Réunion) if it wants to form a group. The new FG caucus will be overwhelmingly dominated by the PCF, which should account for about 8 out of the 10 likely deputies (the PG would have one and the FASE would have one). This result will likely send a chill down the spine of the PCF’s leadership, which certainly isn’t as bold or assertive as Mélenchon and the PG. The PCF was content with the FG because it believed (with reason, until today) that it was a golden opportunity for its political survival without getting amalgamated with the PS. With a legislative election which will have proven a rout for the FG, the PCF will show signs of wariness with Mélenchon’s bold strategy of quasi-complete independence from the PS, and be even more tempted than before to rush like schoolchildren to the big master, the PS, and beg for a little bit of soup from the Leviathan of the French left.
While Mélenchon and co have a political future as opponents of Hollande to his left in what will certainly be a very difficult term (because of the economic crisis, the debt and deficit issues which will be pressing issues for the new government, the social situation and so forth) for the PS, with a result such as this one, the FG faces, for the first time since 2009, a real risk of explosion, with the PCF scrambling back to the old Hue strategy of playing nice with the PS, leaving Mélenchon and his tiny party isolated. The PCF’s only political goal since the late 1980s has been its own survival, and nothing else. When times are tough, I doubt the PCF’s apparatchiks and Politburo will think that the mélenchonien boldness allows for it.
EELV won 5.5% overall. However, the appearance of a fairly strong result hides, in general, some fairly weak performances. EELV’s result is boosted by the much stronger performance of almost all of its 60ish candidates who were backed by the PS. It is because of this deal with the PS, signed in November 2011 and which the PS is probably regretting now, that EELV stands a good chance of winning more than the 15 seats necessary to form a parliamentary group on its own. Over half of EELV’s 60 or so candidates backed by Solférino faced dissident candidates, of varying strength. Their performances against these PS dissidents were mixed. In some cases, like in the Côtes-d’Armor (Guingamp), Orne (Flers) or Sarthe (La Flèche), their candidates were handily crushed by very strong dissidents. In Roubaix-Wattrelos, the PS incumbent-turned-dissident defeated the EELV candidate backed by the PS. In Lyon (1st constituency), Thierry Braillard (PRG, backed by the PS mayor of Lyon Gérard Collomb) defeated Philippe Meirieu (EELV). In other cases, some of them expected other more surprising, EELV-PS candidates managed to defeat weaker dissidents, most notably in Haute-Garonne (Toulouse-Balma).
Outside these constituencies, generous gifts from the PS, EELV candidates posted, in general, very weak performances when running against PS candidates. EELV is thus placed in a fairly ironic position. On its own, it did badly – only marginally better than Eva Joly on April 22 – but thanks to the PS’ generosity in November of last year, it will now find itself with about 15-20 members and a good chance at forming an independent parliamentary group. While the eventuality of a PS-PRG-DVG absolute majority would prevent EELV from being able to bother the PS too much, an independent group will allow EELV to be fairly demanding and assertive against the PS.
The centre, as always, finds itself dispersed. The NC will emerge as the strongest force of the centrist constellation, but the likely reelection of Jean-Christophe Lagarde (a major surprise) will promise an internal battle against the party leader, Hervé Morin, Lagarde’s top rival. However, the NC will owe almost all of its victories to the good graces of the UMP with its members (because they all proved good soldiers and had lined up behind Sarkozy without too many fits). Some NC members are closer to the UMP than they are to their centrist partners, and they will secretly work against any future centrist reunification. While the NC has managed a face-saving performance, the same cannot be said for the MoDem. The centrist party’s two main incumbents: party leader François Bayrou and his close ally and neighbor Jean Lassalle placed second behind the PS, and Bayrou faces a difficult triangulaire with the PS and UMP in which he is likely to be defeated. The MoDem’s other non-incumbent candidates won paltry results, even stronger ones like Rodolphe Thomas (Caen-Hérouville) or Gilles Artigues (Saint-Étienne nord) did fairly badly. Amusingly, the last remaining MoDem ‘heartland’ is… La Réunion, where the MoDem’s Thierry Robert is the favourite in the 7th constituency on the island with weird politics. Weird successes in places which nobody has ever heard of won’t save the party, especially with the likely defeat of its leaders. Bayrou is too proud and independent to accept his political death, but political death is the fate of the MoDem. It certainly kills any hope that Bayrou had of being a senior partner in a reconstruction of the UDF.
The centrist bench in the new National Assembly, composed in large part of NC members reelected with the UMP’s backing with a little assortment of Borlooist Radicals and centre-rightists all backed by the UMP, will not be a very potent political force. The centre, especially sans Bayrou, has no leader of worth capable of reunifying the centrist constellation. Jean-Louis Borloo had his chance with the ARES, but he killed it himself and is far too erratic and weird to have a second shot. Hervé Morin is a boring party apparatchik with no charisma, following or special political talent, and he can’t even keep his little party together. The NC’s other members are all fairly independent on their own (though not independent from the UMP!) and none of them seem keen on leading a centrist reunification (besides Lagarde, but Morin would probably kill him in the process). Jean Arthuis, the leader of the AC, is a dusty old Senator which nobody has ever heard of and who is more reflective of Third Republic parliamentary politics than twenty-first century image-driven politics. Good luck to the centre in whatever they do, because God knows they’ll need all the luck they can get.
More random numbers
Ipsos did one of its pre-election polls which broke down voters and non-voters based on demographic and other categories. It is fairly uninteresting or unsurprising, so I feel no need to detail it out (but you can see it here) . What is most interesting, in my opinion, is the breakdown of non-voters by 2012 presidential vote. 68% and 65% of Hollande and Sarkozy’s first round voters respectively showed up to vote. While the right appears marginally more demobilized, both PS and UMP kept their core electorate and the UMP did not lose out all that much to demoralization. Mélenchon’s voters, with 62% showing up, posted good turnout levels, but did this not help the FG, which kept the support of only 44% of Mélenchon’s April 22 voters (against 38% who voted PS and 9% who voted EELV).
Only 54% of Marine and Bayrou’s voters from April 22 turned out on June 10. The FN kept 71% of Marine Le Pen’s voters (22% voted UMP), but the MoDem won only 33% of Bayrou’s voters against 42% who voted UMP and 26% who voted PS. These numbers, certainly generally correct, confirm the impression that Bayrou – like in 2007 – won a much wider electorate, but one which was very uncertain in its political orientation. Bayrou’s decision to personally endorse Hollande likely lost him and his party the backing of certain centrist/centre-right voters who preferred to return to their historical ideological and partisan roots by voting for UMP candidates by the first round. On top of that, legislative elections are very polarized battles – increasingly so in recent years. It is hardly surprising that the MoDem, with an incomprehensible message of wanting to be neither a supporter nor an opponent, would get utterly crushed both to its left and right.
A lot of UMP candidates in tough runoff situations against the PS find themselves dependent on FN voters. The list of constituency with close left-right runoffs with the FN appearing as the kingmaker is very long, thus a major question is whether or not the FN’s voters will bother turning out on June 17 to vote for the UMP. The UMP is certainly aware of this fact, and, like Sarkozy in the two week runoff campaign, is going all out to get these votes. Whether or not FN voters are particularly receptive to what can appear as desperation on the part of old UMP incumbents worried about their political futures is another matter. However, the situation is not hopeless for the UMP. Ipsos tells me that 61% of FN voters voted the way they do to oppose Hollande (like 68% of UMP voters), 74% of them do not want a left-wing majority and 72% want the right to win the elections (though not all, probably, understood the right as the UMP and its allies!). In a left-right battle, Ipsos’ data says that 60% of FN voters would back the right, against 27% who would not vote and 13% who would vote PS. Figures not all that different from those seen on May 6, and it would be reasonable to assume, on average, that anywhere between 50 and 60% of first round FN voters will vote for the UMP in the runoff. This is still not good enough for the UMP, especially when compared to the FG: 92% of FG voters would vote for the left in such a runoff situation.
I cannot feasibly run through every constituency and give my commentary on each individual result, and I can’t even go through every constituency which was even marginally interesting. This brief overview of major results is thus fairly complete, but also quite incomplete… Full results can be found here.
The PS and PRG
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was handily reelected by the first round in his stronghold, Loire-Atlantique-3 with 56% against only 18% for the UMP candidate. Two other PS candidates also won by the first round in his department, and the left has a chance at winning two or three additional seats in the department.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who had only narrowly missed out on winning reelection by the first round in 2007, won 52.8% in Seine-Maritime-4, sealing a first round win in a safe PS seat centered around the proletarian hinterland of Rouen, notably Elbeuf and Quevilly.
Pierre Moscovici, the finance minister, will need to wait until June 17 to win reelection in Doubs-4, a traditionally left-leaning seat he had gained from the right in 2007. He took 40.8% by the first round, and enters a triangulaire against the FN (23.9%) and the UMP (23.2%) as the overwhelming favourite.
Marisol Touraine, health and social affairs minister, had conquered Indre-et-Loire-3, a fairly marginal seat, from the right in 2007 with a very narrow margin (less than 1%) which came entirely from her strength in the Communist stronghold of Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. This year, she will not owe her likely reelection on June 17 solely to her huge margin in Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. She took 44.8% by the first round, against only 23.6% for the UMP candidate.
The Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filippetti, saw her constituency eliminated in the redistricting, compelling her to run in the redesigned 1st constituency of Moselle, which would have been notionally UMP in 2007 though Hollande won 52% in the constituency. The media convinced itself this was a close race, but Filippetti was always the favourite in this seat, which had no defending UMP incumbent. Indeed, she won 43.5% by the first round, against only 25.8% for the UMP candidate. She should win easily on June 17.
Stéphane Le Foll, the new agriculture minister, was running for the umpteenth time in Sarthe-4, whose tenant since 1981 was François Fillon, who had defeated Le Foll by the first round in 2007. With Fillon, who had a strong personal footing here, out of the picture, Le Foll will handily replace Fillon as this constituency’s high-profile member. Le Foll won a very strong 46% in the first round, against only 31.7% for Fillon’s former suppléant, the UMP candidate.
In Guadeloupe-4, the overseas minister Victorin Lurel (PS), who is wildly popular on the island, won no less than 67.2% by the first round against a paltry 23% for Marie-Luce Penchard, the former UMP overseas minister and daughter of Lucette Michaux-Chevry, the old strongwoman of the right in Guadeloupe and mayor of Basse-Terre.
Manuel Valls, Geneviève Fioraso, Marylise Lebranchu, Valérie Fourneyron, Jérôme Cahuzac, George Pau-Langevin, Alain Vidalies, François Lamy and Michèle Delaunay (who had defeated Juppé in 2007) will win reelection easily in the runoff. Frédéric Cuvillier and Delphine Batho won by the first round, as did Bernard Cazeneuve in Manche-4 – with no less than 55.4%! Kader Arif, in Haute-Garonne-10, won the primary against two PS dissidents and should win handily in the runoff.
Benoît Hamon, a new junior minister and prominent leader of the PS’ left-wing, was running in Yvelines-11, a fairly tailor made seat for the left (though with a UMP incumbent). He won 45.3% against 34.3% for the UMP and will no doubt win easily.
Sylvia Pinel, a young PRG junior minister, faced a tough constituency – she narrowly picked up Tarn-et-Garonne-2 from the UMP in 2007 – but she can laugh her way to the runoff. With 42.1%, she is far ahead of her opponents, and the division of the right between a former incumbent running against the UMP candidates allowed the FN to squeak through and place second, with 19.2%, and qualify for the runoff alone against Pinel. She will win very easily.
Marie-Arlette Carlotti, a new junior minister, was ultimately the only cabinet minister with a truly tough race on her hands. In Bouches-du-Rhône-5, she faced UMP incumbent and mayoral hopeful Renaud Muselier. On June 10, she polled 34.4% against 32.5% for Muselier. She can certainly count on the backing of the 7.6% of voters who backed Frédéric Dutoit, a former PCF deputy running for the FG. The FN, which polled 16.3%, is unlikely to save Muselier, although this race will be close.
The race which was the topic of so much conversation on June 10 and will continue to be one of the top races in the country is Charente-Maritime-1 (La Rochelle). This is a left-wing civil war like no other. The PS candidate is none other than Ségolène Royal, the party’s 2007 presidential candidate and a presidential contender this year again – for the presidency of the National Assembly. Even though Royal is the regional president, her move to La Rochelle was perceived as carpetbagging. She faced the dissident candidacy of a local Socialist, Olivier Falorni. Royal won 32% in the first round, against 28.9% for Falorni. The elimination of the UMP’s Sally Chadjaa (19.5%) means that the runoff will oppose Royal and Falorni. Royal and the PS barons have clamored for Falorni to bow out of the race, as tradition would usually mean. However, Falorni seems quite determined to stay in the race, to Royal’s ire. No amount of abuse and name-calling from Solférino seems to stop him at this point. Royal faces a very close fight indeed, and her fate hinges on the behaviour of UMP voters. Right-wingers were already tempted to vote for Falorni by the first round, and some UMP voters might now seize the opportunity to land a stunning blow to Royal’s political career. Chadjaa has called on her voters to vote for neither Falorni nor Royal, which also seems to be the UMP’s line (though Dominique Bussereau, the UMP president of the general council, has endorsed Falorni over Royal). The behaviour of FN (6.8%), EELV (3.7%) and FG voters (3.4%) will also be decisive.
Another high-profile Socialist is in some amount of trouble. Jack Lang, the former culture minister, was running in the Vosges (2nd) this year after a long and tortuous crisis ensued after he threw a fit over a primary in his old constituency, in the Pas-de-Calais (Lang is famous for being elected about everywhere). The Vosges-2 is winnable for the left, but the FN’s strength in this working-class constituency around Saint-Dié has diluted the region’s historical left-wing leanings. Lang won 37.5% in the first round, narrowly outpolling the UMP incumbent Gérard Cherpion who won 35.4%. Cherpion can be pleased that the FN is not qualified for the runoff, but if he is to defeat Lang (and it would be a fairly major defeat for Lang, who would also like the presidency of the National Assembly), he must win the bulk of the 17.4% who voted for the FN. He got a tiny boost when Marine Le Pen placed Jack Lang on her blacklist of prominent right and left incumbents who she wants to see gone.
Some other major results for the PS and the PRG:
- Christophe Borgel won 30% in Haute-Garonne-9, defeating a strong dissident candidacy which placed third with 15%, which will allow him to win easily in the runoff.
- Olivier Ferrand, the controversial president of the centre-left Terra Nova think-tank, placed second with 31.6% in the Bouches-du-Rhône-8 but stands a good chance at winning in the runoff, which will be a triangulaire with the FN.
- Michel Vauzelle, the president of the PACA region and incumbent in the Bouches-du-Rhône-16 won 38% in the first round, against 29% for the FN and only 22.6% for the UMP’s Roland Chassain, who he had defeated in 2007. All three qualified for the runoff, but Chassain has announced that he is dropping out and endorsing the FN candidate in order to defeat Vauzelle. In a PS-FN runoff, Vauzelle is still the favourite.
- Sophie Dessus, the woman on whom Jacques Chirac has a crush, won Hollande’s old seat (Corrèze-1) with 51.4% by the first round.
- Henri Emmanuelli, long-time incumbent in Landes-3 and major figure of the PS left, won 56.1% in the first round.
- Claude Gewerc, the president of the Picardy region, is in a tough fight against the UMP incumbent Édouard Courtial in Oise-7, where Courtial took 36.5% against 32.5% for Gewerc. Courtial can hope to gain most of the 18.5% of voters who backed the FN.
- Jean-Pierre Kucheida, the corrupt PS (now DVG) incumbent in Pas-de-Calais-12, was surprisingly defeated by the FN and the official PS candidate. Kucheida, caught with the hand in the jelly pot, won 21.6% against 25.7% for the FN and 24.6% for the PS candidate.
- Sylvie Andrieux, a PS incumbent in the Bouches-du-Rhône-3 with judicial troubles of her own, placed second (29.8%) behind the local leader of the FN (29.9%) but should win in the runoff, although there is an outside chance for an upset by the FN depending on the behaviour of the 20.2% who voted UMP.
- The PS stands a chance at winning one or even two seats in traditionally right-wing departments such as Loiret, Savoie, Vendée, Vaucluse and the Var.
- The PRG won reelection by the first round in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Two former PRG deputies, Alain Tourret (Calvados) and Roger-Gérard Schwartzenberg (Val-de-Marne) are in good positions to return to their old seats. They could be joined by other PRG candidates in Aisne-5 and Pas-de-Calais-9. The PRG could win about 10 seats, with an outside shot at reaching 15 seats. They could form an independent group with support from some PS dissidents, overseas deputies and perhaps the MRC (or EELV if they do not win 15+ seats).
The UMP, NC and right-wing dissidents
The leader of the UMP, Jean-François Copé, will, ultimately, not be in any trouble. Copé won 45.1% by the first round, far ahead of the EELV candidate backed by the PS who won 29%. The FN won 16% in the constituency, and Copé should win handily in the runoff.
François Fillon, Copé’s top rival and former Prime Minister, packed his bags and moved to Paris (2nd constituency), likely in preparation for a tough mayoral bid in the capital in 2014. The Fillon-Dati showdown in this constituency was settled – in appearances – before the election, so the election itself was not too interesting in a constituency which is solidly right-wing. Fillon won 48.6% against 34% for Axel Kahn, a fairly high-profile PS candidate. Fillon should win handily.
Xavier Bertrand, a former UMP cabinet minister and potential leadership contender, is the favourite for reelection in Aisne-2, not an easy constituency for the right by any means. With 38.9%, he is in first ahead of the PS (35.5%) but can count on part of the FN’s 16.3%. Even though Bertrand, a moderate, was placed on Marine’s blacklist, I still think Bertrand should save his seat by a narrow margin.
Laurent Wauquiez, the leader of the UMP’s so-called ‘social’ (moderate) wing, won 49.7% in Haute-Loire-1, against 23.4% for a PS candidate. He will win very easily in the runoff after almost winning in the first round. The FN (11.7%) performed poorly in a constituency where it can normally poll much better. Wauquiez is also a potential leadership and presidential contender.
In Essonne-4, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Sarkozy’s spokesperson and former cabinet minister, is the only potential presidential contender in trouble. She came out ahead with 39.5% against 36.3% for the PS mayor of Marcoussis, Olivier Thomas. Thomas can count on the FG (5.3%) and EELV (2.8%) but can NKM count on the good graces of the FN (11.4%)? NKM had said in the past that she would vote for the left in a left-FN runoff, and Marine has, in return, placed her on her blacklist of must-go incumbents. She seems to be the underdog in this fight.
In Meurthe-et-Moselle-5, the loudmouthed UMP incumbent Nadine Morano, a particularly distasteful Sarkozyst populist, is in a tough spot. She won 34.3% in the first round, against 39.3% for the PS candidate. I thought that her (allegedly) strong constituency work and base would pay off for her, but perhaps her over-aggressive negative image in general hurt her. The FN won 16.5%, and could hold the keys to an upset for her. Indeed, as aforementioned, she immediately called on FN voters to vote for her, citing shared political values. She is likely to lose, and a similar fate likely awaits another loudmouth young Sarkozyst in Meurthe-et-Moselle-2, Valérie Rosso-Debord.
Two unelected Sarkozysts sought election this year. In Hauts-de-Seine-9, Claude Guéant, the former interior minister known for his very right-wing views, faced a local UMP dissident candidacy from Thierry Solère. Guéant came out ahead of Solère in this safe right-wing constituency, with 30.4% against 26.9% for Solère, while the PS also qualified for the runoff, though with only 22.1%. Solère seems to have decided to maintain his candidacy in the runoff, which will be closely fought between Guéant (who could benefit from the FN’s 5.3%) and Solère (who could gain some of the 8% cast for other DVD candidates). In Yvelines-3, Henri Guaino, Sarkozy’s former speechwriter and aide, placed a narrow first with only 28.1% against 25.8% for the PS and 23% for Olivier Delaporte, a right-wing dissident. Delaporte has dropped out and Guaino should win this traditionally right-wing constituency easily.
Other prominent UMP or NC incumbents including Eric Ciotti, Christian Estrosi, François Baroin, Dominique Bussereau, François Sauvadet, Bruno Le Maire, Luc Chatel, Hervé Morin, Eric Woerth, Bernard Accoyer, Christian Jacob and Valérie Pécresse are all favoured for reelection.
Some other UMP incumbents who aren’t so fortunate and other important results for the UMP and NC include:
- Disgraced foreign minister Michèle Alliot-Marie is in trouble in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques-6 even if she came out on top in the first round with 35.4% against 31.6% for the PS. However, the PS will likely benefit from fairly good transfers from the Basque nationalists who took 9.8% in this constituency, where the Basque nationalist movement is quite strongly implanted.
- Hervé Novelli, the leader of the UMP’s liberal wing, will likely lose in Indre-et-Loire-4 where the PS won 39.7% against 35.9% for him.
- In the Bouches-du-Rhône-1, Valérie Boyer, another UMP mayoral contender and major figure of the droite populaire, faces a tough contest, having won 26.1% against 32% for the PS. She could still win thanks to the nearly 22% won by the FN, which nonetheless failed to qualify for the runoff.
- In the Bouches-du-Rhône-2, the controversial UMP mayor of Aix-en-Provence Maryse Joissains-Masini placed second with 28.5% against 35.6% for the PS. Even though the FN (14.2%) and a dissident (8.3%) offer potential reserves, I would still bet against her at this point.
- In Corse-du-Sud-2, Camille de Rocca Serra, the UMP incumbent in a constituency which has long been the personal preserve of the Rocca Serra dynasty, faces a tough runoff. He won 33% in the first round, and will face the moderate nationalist Jean-Christophe Angelini who won a somewhat underwhelming 21.2%. The victory or not of this Corsican nationalist, which would be an historical milestone, depends on the behaviour of those who backed a DVG candidate (16.8%) and those who backed Dominique Bucchini, the FG president of the regional assembly who took only 10.9%. Bucchini is well known for his opposition to nationalists, but he could prove receptive to the calls of beating the right.
- In Indre-et-Loire-1, Guillaume Peltier, the former FN and MPF member who has become a prominent UMP rising star, will lose heavily in the runoff against the PS incumbent. He won 28.7% against 41.7% for the PS.
- Jean-Louis Borloo, the leader of the Radical Party, won 43% in the Nord-21, against 24.3% for his perennial FG opponent. EELV backed by the PS took 16.7% while the FN won 14.1%. Borloo is the narrow favourite.
- Christian Vanneste, the controversial incumbent in the Nord-10 known for his homophobic statements, ran as a dissident but took only 13.2%. The runoff opposes the PS (30.7%) and the UMP (25.1%), although I would think the UMP should win this constituency.
- François Guéant, the son of Claude Guéant, was the UMP candidate in Morbihan-4, where he won 25.8% against 26% for the Breton regionalist backed by EELV and the PS. A local mayor running as a centre-right dissident won 14.7%, the obligatory PS dissident against EELV took 12.8%. This is certainly a race to follow, like the race next door in Morbihan-1, where the villepiniste mayor of Vannes and incumbent member François Goulard is in much difficulty after a poor result (32.6%) in the first round.
- DLR presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan should hold his constituency, Essonne-8, fairly easily. He won 42.8% in the first round, against 30.2% for the PS.
- Rama Yade, the former cabinet minister who is now a member of Borloo’s Radicals, won only 13.8% running against the official UMP candidate in Hauts-de-Seine-2, which the PS should pick up in the runoff.
- Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the NC incumbent in a very left-wing seats in Seine-Saint-Denis (5th) should hold his seat, in a surprise to most. He won a very strong 43.5% in the first round against 20.6% for the PS and 18.9% for the FG. He should be the only right-wing member in the 93, where other UMP incumbents, notably Eric Raoult, will likely lose their seats.
The FN’s main contest, was, of course, the Pas-de-Calais-11 (which was also the FG’s main contest). Marine Le Pen won 42.4%, an excellent result, and took over 48% in her political homebase of Hénin-Beaumont. She will face the PS candidate Philippe Kemel, who won a distant second place with 23.5%. Kemel narrowly won the divisive left-wing contest against Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Marine’s sworn enemy who had come up to this constituency, thinking he could benefit from the bad climate in the local PS. Mélenchon won third place with 21.5%. Jean Urbaniak, the former centre-right deputy for the constituency between 1993 and 1997, won only 7.9% of the vote, a very bad result. Marine still faces a difficult runoff, even though 42% is an excellent starting point. Kemel absolutely must win almost of Mélenchon’s voters, which could be difficult given how pissed off Mélenchon seems to be and the old histories of acrimony between PS and PCF in the region. He also must win a lot of Urbaniak’s voters, which represent the tiny base of the UMP and the centre in this constituency. I would tend to place Marine as the underdog, which is probably exactly what she wants to be seen as.
Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the 22-year old granddaughter of the old patriarch, won 34.6% and first place in Vaucluse-3, an excellent result for the young candidate. The UMP candidate won 30% of the vote, while the PS candidate, with 22%, qualified for the runoff. Solférino called on their candidate to drop out, to prevent the victory of the FN, but the local candidate has apparently preferred to play the game until the end and will maintain her candidacy, having already said in the past that she saw no major differences between Maréchal-Le Pen and the UMP incumbent. This is the FN’s second major hope, and is another major race to watch. The PS staying in this race likely boosts the FN’s chances.
In the Gard-2, the famous lawyer Gilbert Collard won 34.6% of the vote as the FN candidate, placing first. The PS won 32.9%, while Collard utterly crushed the UMP incumbent who managed a paltry 23.9%. The UMP incumbent, Etienne Mourrut, has said that he is considering dropping out in favour of Collard (again to prevent the PS from winning). If he does do so, the race will be close, but the PS would have a narrow edge. If he decides to stay in the race, the PS should still be favoured in this very close contest. This is the FN’s third hope.
In Vaucluse-4, the former FN mayor of Orange Jacques Bompard, running as a far-right independent, will face the PS in a one-on-one runoff. The PS won 25.2% against 23.5% for Bompard. The UMP candidate won 20.5%, while the FN still managed 16.3%. This seat is, ironically, the far-right’s best chance at winning a seat this year. Bompard and the FN together polled nearly 40%, and he should some support from the UMP candidate.
In Moselle-6, however, the FN’s Florian Philippot, Marine’s former campaign manager, was not as lucky. He won 26.3%, not a particularly excellent result, though he has eliminated the UMP incumbent (who won 25%) and will face the PS in the runoff. The PS starts off with a strong base of 37.5% and has won this seat in the past, so it is likely the favourite in this contest.
Paul-Marie Coûteaux, a former Eurosceptic MEP who ran for the FN in Haute-Marne-2 failed badly in a constituency where he should or could have done much, much better. He is out by the first round, with only 19%, while the UMP incumbent took a strong 45.7% and will win handily.
Bruno Gollnisch, Marine’s old rival for the FN leadership, won 24.1% and qualified for the runoff in Var-3, though he will not prevent the FN from winning. Stéphane Ravier, the FN leader in Marseille, won 29.9% in the aforementioned contest against the PS incumbent Sylvie Andrieux in northern Marseille, but Ravier will probably not win. In Alpes-Maritimes-1, Jacques Peyrat, the former mayor of Nice, won 16.2% of the vote and find himself out by the first round. Originally a FN member, Peyrat later moved closer to the right but ran as a far-right candidate with FN support this year.
The FN could win between 0 and 3 seats, with Bompard’s potential victory adding an additional seat.
The FG, against all expectations, lost seven seats, placing second behind PS candidates in these seats. FG/PCF incumbents in legislative elections usually face first round PS opposition. The unwritten tradition and quasi-rule in these cases is that the left-wing candidate who won the most votes benefits from the automatic withdrawal of other left-wing candidates qualified for the runoff. Hence, PCF candidates placing second behind PS candidates have almost always bowed out in the PS’ favour, sometimes allowing them to win unopposed in the runoff. Therefore, even though the FG is qualified for the runoff against PS candidates in a good number of constituencies, the unwritten “republican tradition” should be followed this year again.
In Seine-Saint-Denis, Patrick Braouezec and Jean-Pierre Brard in 2nd and 7th constituency have been outpolled by the PS. In the 7th, Brard, the former mayor of Montreuil, won 32.8% against 36.7% for Razzy Hammadi (PS), who is backed by Dominique Voynet, the EELV mayor of Montreuil who defeated Brard in 2008. In the Val-de-Marne-10, the MRC’s Jean-Luc Laurent narrowly outpolled (33-30.3) the FG incumbent Pierre Gosnat. In the Hauts-de-Seine-1, Roland Muzeau has been defeated by the PS (32.5 vs 29.8) while in the 11th constituency, FG incumbent Marie-Hélène Amiable lost out to the PS by a very short margin (29.9 vs 29.2). Only Jacqueline Fraysse (Hauts-de-Seine-4), Marie-George Buffet (Seine-Saint-Denis-4, but by only 3 points) and François Asensi (Seine-Saint-Denis-11) saved their seats in the Parisian region. Asensi could face a runoff against Stéphane Gatignon, the ex-PCF EELV mayor of Sevran (backed by the PS) who won 25.5%. However, the FG candidates in all other constituencies should bow out in favour of the PS candidates. In the 93, the deal has been signed (and the PS is backing Asensi and Buffet) while Amiable has also pulled out, leaving the PS alone against the NC.
In Seine-Maritime-8, despite being almost tailor-made for the PCF’s Jean-Paul Lecoq, the incumbent narrowly lost to the PS, with 30.3% against 30.5% for the PS. In this case like in all other cases noted in Paris, there was a stark divide in the PS vs FG results between municipalities which remain PCF strongholds to this day and other municipalities where the PS is stronger. The race in Seine-Maritime-8 opposes PS and FG, but Lecoq should pull out.
In Rhône-14, the FG had no chance at holding this open seat (and redistricted in a way favourable to the PS, not the FG). Indeed, its candidate won fourth place with only 13.7%. The PS will be alone against the FN in the runoff. The FG narrowly managed to save two open seats, in Cher-2 (28.9 vs 27 for the PS) and Bouches-du-Rhône-13 (27 vs 24.8 for the PS and 21.7 for the FN). Otherwise, the FG can be thankful to strong incumbents like Alain Bocquet, André Chassaigne, Marc Dolez or Jean-Jacques Candelier in its remaining seats.
The FG stands a chance at gaining a seat only in Oise-6, where it won 23.1% against 28.5% for the UMP and 22.2% for the FN, which is qualified for the runoff. The FG candidate had held this seat for the PCF between 1997 and 2002, when he had won in a triangulaire. This year, he is in a strong position to repeat his 1997 success. But this will be the only major success of the FG in a seat where it went offensive.
Indeed, the FG’s targets turned out, in general, to be unmitigated disasters or at least poor performances. For example: only 16.6% for Sébastien Jumel (the popular rising-star FG mayor of Dieppe) in Seine-Maritime-6, 24.6% in Seine-Maritime-2, 24.2% (vs 32.8% for the PS) in Nord-19, 14.7% for Jacky Hénin (the former PCF mayor of Calais) in Pas-de-Calais-7, 16.7% in Essonne-10, 11.7% in Somme-1, 18.4% in Meurthe-et-Moselle-3, 14.7% in Jura-3, 16.5% in Gard-5, 15.3% in Gard-4, and 9.2% in Ardèche-2. And, of course, Mélenchon’s much talked about defeat in Pas-de-Calais-11.
EELV stands a chance at forming an independent parliamentary group, with a wide range between 10 and 20 seats, although I think they could narrowly break the 15 seat threshold needed to form a group. Of course, this will in large part be thanks to the deal with the PS, which, as I said above, is something which the PS is likely regretting now.
In Gironde-3, Noël Mamère, who has held the seat since 1997, won 52% by the first round, so he is easily reelected. In Loire-Atlantique-1, François de Rugy, who gained the seat for the Greens in 2007, will certainly be reelected. In Paris-6, cabinet minister and EELV leader Cécile Duflot won 48.7% against 18.3% for the UMP and will win this seat, but as a cabinet minister, she will be forced to give up her seat in favour of her suppléant, who is the PS incumbent (so, in reality, one less seat for the Greens when we calculate group formation…). In Paris-10, Denis Baupin won 43% and will easily win the runoff. EELV is also favoured in Isère-10, Haute-Garonne-3 (the UMP came out first, but the PS dissident who placed third has withdrawn in favour of the EELV candidate who will likely win the runoff), Puy-de-Dôme-3 (against Giscard’s son, the UMP incumbent), Dordogne-2 (a hilariously divided race, with 6 candidates polling over 10% – the incumbent DVD placing sixth, but EELV should win), Loire-3 (a triangulaire with the FN, the FG won 17.2% and this should help EELV), Hérault-1 (assuming the PS dissident’s votes transfers well to EELV) and Gard-6 (a triangulaire). The contest in Essonne-7, Val-d’Oise-2, Val-de-Marne-6, Bouches-du-Rhône-10, Vienne-4, Morbihan-4, Aveyron-3 and even Yvelines-11 (a EELV incumbent since a by-election) are closer but EELV has a shot in all of them.
Other results, against PS dissidents, were heart-breakers for the Greens. In the Nord-8, Slimane Tir (EELV backed by the PS) won only 21% against 36.5% for the PS dissident Dominique Baert (who is the incumbent). Tir may maintain his candidacy, but he faces the FN’s ire (the FN won 20.7%) and will lose. In Rhône-1, a very high-profile contest, the PRG candidate Thierry Braillard, backed by the PS mayor of Lyon over the commands of his party, took 26.4% against only 18.4% for Philippe Meirieu, the EELV-PS candidate. Braillard should go on to defeat the UMP incumbent easily in the runoff. In Finistère-3, EELV placed a very close third with 20.8% against 21% for the PS dissident, who should win this seat from the UMP with the EELV candidate withdrawing.
François Bayrou was not thought to be in any trouble in his old seat in Pyrénées-Atlantiques-2, which he has held since 1988 with little trouble. In 2007, after his break from the right, he won 61.2% in the runoff against the PS, benefiting from the bulk of the UMP’s votes. This year, he is not only personally weakened, but faces the ire of the UMP after his endorsement of Hollande – an endorsement which did not keep the PS from running a candidate against him. Polls showed him in trouble, the results confirm that. With 23.6% – an extremely poor showing – he trails the PS by over ten points (34.9%) and is only narrowly ahead of the UMP (21.7%) which is qualified for the runoff as well. The UMP has ultimately decided to go all out against him, so they are not withdrawing their candidate in his favour (unlike in 2007), meaning that any chance he had of taking UMP voters as a strategic anti-PS vote is basically gone. He could theoretically win, but it would be a major underdog win.
In the Pyrénées-Atlantiques-4, the other MoDem incumbent, Jean Lassalle, placed second behind the PS as well, with 26.3% against 32% for the PS. But he is in a better position, because the UMP (17.6%) will likely support him, a little thank you for his silent endorsement of Sarkozy over Hollande. And Lassalle, with a fairly regionalist style, can also perform well with the 6.8% who supported the Basque regionalist candidate.
Otherwise, the MoDem has a solid chance in La Réunion-7, where Thierry Robert topped the poll with 37.8% against 22% for the UMP, and will most likely prevail in the runoff, probably with left-wing support. Nassimah Dindar, the former UMP-turned-MoDem president of the general council (but elected with a left-wing coalition) is qualified for the runoff in Réunion-1, but with 21% against nearly 40% for the PS, she will not win.
In metropolitan France, the MoDem qualified in Calvados-2 (20.7% for the former UDF deputy Rodolphe Thomas, which is a rather poor result for him) and Loire-1 (25.6% for Gilles Artigues, a former UDF deputy defeated in 2007, backed by the UMP). Both of them will lose heavily to the PS. These are, basically, the only good results for the MoDem.
I have not yet compiled my predictions, by party, for the second round(s), but once again, the first round results are favourable to the left and everything seems to indicate that the left as a whole will easily win an absolute majority and there is a good chance that the PS and its closest allies will win more than 289 seats, the absolute majority threshold.
Unfortunately, this post (while long enough!) is far from being thorough in a way that I would like. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or the data available to throw together some nice fancy maps and delve into sociodemographic details – but don’t worry, there will be plenty of time later in the summer for us to do that (and it will certainly be interesting for all involved). Rather, this post aims at giving a general impression of the first round and presenting the most interesting or important results, by constituency. I am certainly open to discussing any constituency in more detail, in whatever kind of detail is requested. Similarly, I will post my predictions (so you can laugh at them on June 18…) once I have run through each seat.