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The Presidential Majority wins the General Elections
but the Opposition withstands better than Expected

The Presidential Majority wins the General Elections
but the Opposition withstands better than Expected

18/06/2007 - Results - 2nd round

The presidential majority emerged victorious in the general elections. After the second round which took place on 17th June the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) won 317 seats in the National Assembly, the lower chamber in Parliament; the New Centre, a party created on 29th May by some of the MPs from the Union for French Democracy (UDF) who left François Bayrou and led by Defence Minister Hervé Morin, took 20 seats (i.e. the minimum required to form a parliamentary group), and the Movement for France (MPF), the party led by Philippe de Villiers, retained two MPs.
However the leftwing opposition withstood the blue wave better than had been expected on the eve of the first round on 10th June last. The Socialist Party (PS) led by François Hollande won 212 seats, the Communist Party (PCF) led by Marie-George Buffet 18 and the Greens 4. Finally the Democrat Movement (MoDem), the centrist movement led by François Bayrou also won 4 seats.
107 women were elected to stand in the National Assembly, i.e. 18.34% in all, a record for France which does however remain far behind a number of European countries in terms of women's representation.
The participation rate was the lowest under the 5th Republic: 59.9%. The constituencies that were still running in the second round, more urban, more to the left also tended towards a greater level of abstention than the French average.

"Today France has given itself a majority in order to act. I am telling the electorate who did not vote for candidates in the presidential majority that their disappointment is an obligation for us in the same way we are committed to those who place their confidence in our hands. There is not a population on the right against a population on the left – there is just one population, the French, whose sensitivity must be respected as a whole," declared Prime Minister François Fillon. The head of government also welcomed the "clear, coherent choice" made by voters which "enables the President of the Republic to apply his project," and he maintains that the " UMP's victory confirms the desire on the part of Nicolas Sarkozy for political opening and the validation of his resolute project to modernise France."

Although the presidential majority has been re-elected and it has won the absolute majority in the National Assembly it finds itself weakened in comparison with the general elections that took place on 9th and 16th June 2002. In addition to this the UMP has suffered a major setback with the defeat of Alain Juppé, the government number two, Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development in the 2nd constituency of Gironde, which was dominated by the right for over 60 years. "I shall present my resignation tomorrow morning to the President of the Republic and to the Prime Minister with regard to my function as Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development," declared Alain Juppé. "As far as my term in office as mayor is concerned I shall convene my town council within the next few days and we shall decide what we should do," he added. The Head of State himself decreed the rule that any member of government who failed to win the general election would have to leave his position. Alain Juppé is the only one of the 11 ministers who were standing to have been beaten.

Apart from Alain Juppé a few other personalities from the presidential majority were beaten: former Tourism Minister Léon Bertrand in Guyane, former Minister and Mayor of Grenoble, Alain Carignon, former Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, former Social Security Minister Philippe Bas, Alain Marsaud and finally the judge Jean-Louis Bruguière who was trying to convert from law over to politics. Finally Arno Klarsfeld failed to maintain the 8th Constituency of Paris on the right. The leftwing opposition therefore won an additional seat in Paris (13 out of 21) and remains in the majority in the capital.

The UMP's and New Centre's victory is historic since it is the first time in thirty years that an outgoing majority has been re-elected.

The only candidate on the far right National Front (NF) standing in the 2nd round, Marine Le Pen, was beaten in the 14th constituency of Pas-de-Calais. The daughter of the National Front leader did however win 41.65% of the vote.

As for the opposition forces the first secretary of the Socialist Party François Hollande, easily won in the 1st constituency of Corrèze with 60.3% of the vote, and was pleased with the results in this general election. He was happy that the 2nd round which "corrected the trend that had emerged in the first round." "The blue wave that had been forecast to wash over us did not happen. There will be diversity and pluralism in the National Assembly and it is better like that," he declared.
The Socialist Party candidate in the presidential election on 22nd April and 6th May, Ségolène Royal, stressed that the "French had wanted via their vote to provide the Republic with meaning, democratic freedom with a real, constructive force on the opposition bench. The movement and impetus of the presidential election have continued. Between the two rounds people's awareness was raised. The opposition has the task of observing, protecting and also of making proposals," - with these comments she claimed part of the responsibility for the left's recovery between the two rounds of the general elections. "Voters expect us to continue working to meet the challenges of this century and daily emergencies. The work we have started must be continued," she added mentioning "four challenges to rise to: that of work for all and buying power, the fight against global warming, the conception of new North-South relations and the reduction of debt." "This is the new frontier to be conquered by the left. Work continues, the Socialists, united and together, will show that they are able to do this," she concluded.
The president of the Poitou-Charentes region is also pleased that most of her close colleagues who seemed to be in difficulty after the first round were elected or re-elected. Hence Arnaud Montebourg, Jean-Louis Bianco and Julien Dray retained their seats. Delphine Batho was elected in the 2nd constituency of Deux-Sèvres and succeeds Ségolène Royal who was not standing. Only Vincent Peillon failed in the 3rd constituency of the Somme.

The Communist Party withstood much better than forecast and maintained a great number of its strongholds. "This is a magnificent result. The Communist Party will be the 4th group in the National Assembly," stressed its leader, Marie-George Buffet. Most of the outgoing Communist MPs were re-elected and even achieved one of the best scores in the elections with 69.17% of the vote in the 20th constituency of the North.

The Greens won an additional seat in the National Assembly. Their three outgoing MPs (Martine Billard, Yves Cochet and Noël Mamère) were re-elected and François de Rugy won in the 1st constituency in the Loire-Atlantique. The Socialist Party did not put a candidate forward in this constituency.

Some opposition personalities on the left were beaten however including one of the last historic figures of the Mitterrand period, Jean-Pierre Chevènement (Republican and Citizen's Movement, MRC) in his stronghold of Belfort. These elections were hard for Jean-Pierre Chevènement's party since his strong arm Georges Sarre also fell in the 2nd constituency of the Creuse. The Radical Left Party (PRG) suffered some major losses: Roger-Gérard Schwartzenberg was beaten in the 3rd constituency of the Val-de-Marne and Emile Zuccarelli fell in the first constituency of Haute Corse of which he had been the MP since 1986.

Finally the Democrat Movement (MoDem) led by François Bayrou, although devastated by this election, achieved a better score than forecast succeeding to clinch 4 seats in the National Assembly. François Bayrou easily won in his stronghold of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques with 61.21% of the vote. In the only three-cornered contest in this election outgoing MP Jean Lassalle managed to maintain his seat in the fourth constituency of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Thierry Benoît was the source of surprise in the 6th constituency of Ille-et-Vilaine easily pulling ahead of outgoing Marie-Thérèse Boisseau (UMP) and Abdoulatifou Aly was elected in Mayotte. Finally Jean-Christophe Lagarde, whose position remains vague (although he was critical of François Bayrou and seems ready to work with the presidential majority he has not said in which group he intends to sit) was re-elected in the 5th constituency of Seine-Saint-Denis.
"Out of the six constituencies where the Democrat Movement was running in the second round 4 had already been won, which means that this political road exists and the electorate are ready to choose, if the voting method provides them with the choice," declared François Bayrou happily. In his party's result the MoDem leader perceives "extremely welcoming, friendly and promising signs." "We shall build this new political trend that France needs," declared the centrist party leader who said when talking of the next local and regional elections in March 2008 that "the Democrat Movement will achieve more when the elections are more equitable. All of the electoral dates ahead of us are now dates to rebuild French democracy so that it is alive, diverse and creative."

Many political analysts, like many political players said that the comeback of the left between the two rounds was due to the polemic last week over the Economy Minister's declarations about social VAT. Jean-Louis Borloo indeed maintained after the first round that the government was considering a possible increase in VAT (19.6%). This announcement together with an increase in the minimum salary on July 1st which was lower than expected by the unions came to the rescue of the opposition enabling it to introduce a true issue to mobilise the electorate in an electoral campaign that was clearly lacking in elements of debate. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic, understood this since he spoke during the week declaring that he would not accept any decrease in the buying power of the French.

The electorate logically provided the President of the Republic with the majority he needs to govern and apply his programme. But by re-balancing the results of the first round (only one PS MP out of 110) the French showed that they wanted a strong opposition force that will be able to exercise its role as vigil, criticise and make proposals in the National Assembly. Although the opposition can rejoice at its recovery it should not forget that this defeat bears witness to the work to be done on reforming the party – a task it must now set itself if it wants to win back the confidence of the French. François Hollande maintained once more that he wanted to remain head of the Socialist Party until 2008, the year when his term in office as PS leader comes to an end. Ségolène Royal repeated that she was interested in leading the main opposition party and that she would step forward during the next national congress.
On the evening of 17th June the French also learnt of the official separation of the Royal/Holland couple which had lasted nearly 30 years.

The new MPs will start work on 26th June for an extraordinary session of Parliament which will last the entire month of July. The new National Assembly, apart from electing its new chairperson, will immediately focus on the first measures that the President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy would like to apply i.e. fiscal reform, the fight against delinquency and the reform of universities.

Results of the Second Round of the General Elections on 17th June 2007 in France

Participation rate: 59.99%
Source: National Assembly
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
Other stages
2nd roundResults