L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

11 June 2007 Blog Home : June 2007 : Permalink

Alpes Maritimes Blues

Here in the Alpes Maritimes we've got the blues, the UMP Blues that is. La vague bleue (the blue wave) of the French Right and President Sarkozy was particularly strong here in the Alpes Maritimes where 7 out of the 9 consituencies voted for the UMP candidate by over 50% in the first round and therefore avoided the need for a second round. In the 8th (the battle of the mayors in Cannes Mandelieu the UMP mayor of Cannes La Bocca leads his rival, the UMP mayor of Mandelieu by 42.6% to 27.9% with no one else getting over the 12% threshold to pass on to the 2nd round). Only in the 1st constituency (Nice Centre) do the socialists have a possibility of winning a seat but even here the top UMP candidate got 44.6% of the vote and another UMP candidate got 9.84% of the vote so it seems unlikely that the PS will win. As the Nice Matin pointed out this clean sweep in round one included the constitucency whihc has the dodgy suburbs of Ariane and Trinité, which I find interesting because it seems to indicate that either the residents of said quartiers failed to vote or that even there people are crying out for change. Given that SNCF went on strike again today I suspect the latter.
France goes blue
Of course we aren't alone in our blue waviness as the Yahoo/AFP flash map (image capture above) shows. Our neighbours in the Var elected six out of seven as UMP in this round and also has the UMP candidate leading for round 2. Other uniform repartments include Haute Marne (2 constituencies both UMP) and both Alsace departments (Haut Rhin and Bas-Rhin) are almost as good. Indeed Reuters have an article (french) which explains that 110 constituencies elected candidates on the first round and of these just one chose a socialist, with 99 UMP candidates elected as well as 10 others of rightward tilt. Assuming most of the 2nd round races elect the front runner then the UMP is going to win by a landslide of anywhere from 400 to 500 of the 577 seats in the assembly.

So what happens? Well I predict a lot of posturing over the summer followed by strikes and demonstrations in September, if not the end of August. This is so blindingly obvious that Sarko and his all female Law'n'order team of interior minister Michele Alliot-Marie (known as MAM to the media) and justice minister Rachida Dati have to be coming up with plans to counter the strikes. Ms Dati is not known as a ministerial figure but MAM was a solid defence minister under Chirac so the plans should be fairly solid. What does seem clear is that target #1 is the bolshy unions and students with the "youths" being left until the unions have been broken. This is undoubtedly correct strategically - breaking the unions should help the "youths" get jobs and thereby reduce the support for riots when he goes after the "youths" who prefer crime to integration, but it may lead to some interesting tactical issues if the unions can figure out how to get the "youths" involved in the mayhem.

Of course the unions are not, as far as I can tell, led by clueful people so the chances are they will fail to exploit this or, more likely they will get caught out tring to exploit it and see their support from the rest of France dwindle yet further. It is hard to extrapolate the feelings of the average Frenchman from the people I know in the Alpes Maritimes, but so long as Sarko and his team can manage the media (probably not hard since its 95% owned by friends of Sarko), he should be able to paint the unions as the dinosaurs they are and get everyone to agree in their extinction.