28.03 - Left KOs Right
Bonsoir Alan -
Today French voters stopped not voting and turned out en masse to reject the policies of France's right-wing government by giving majorities to Socialist-Green parties in the final round of regional elections. Voter participation was above 65 percent.
Shortly after polls closed at 20:00, results showed that the Socialists and other assorted leftists, including the Greens, had captured control of 20 regions, leaving only Alsace with a right-wing majority. Results from Corsica and overseas regions were not immediately available.
The right has enjoyed a majority control of France's regions since 1998, with majorities in 14 regions. The left controlled 8 regions.
The Socialist candidate in the Paris-Ile de France region beat the government candidate and the FN candidate, Marine Le Pen, by gaining an absolute majority.
The election result is seen here as a rejection of the reform plans pushed forward by the right-wing majority nationally. Former Socialist minister Jack Lang said, "The French considered themselves deceived by government policies."
Former Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing UMP party allied to President Jacques Chirac, Alain Jupp?, said "We should listen more carefully to the French."
All current government ministers who were candidates in the regional elections were defeated. The center right in France has a tendency to self-destruct from time to time.
The big political question now is - can the President afford to keep Jean-Pierre Raffarin? The right's candidate was solidly beaten in Prime Minister's 'home' region.
Jean-Marie Le Pen was excluded from running in this election, for not fulfilling residence requirements in PACA. His substitute in the region was beaten by the Socialist candidate.
This election reverses the results of the presidential election of 2002. Then, results in the first round gave Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen a slight edge over Socialist leader Lionel Jospin - which eliminated him as a candidate. For the second round, leftist politicians urged all voters to vote against the ultra-right leader, and Jacques Chirac was elected with about 80 percent of the vote - and was rewarded by voters with an strong majority of deputies in the Assembly National.
Today's election results amount to a rejection of the government's national policies.
regards from Paris, ric