France’s ruling Socialists lose big in local elections

posted at 6:31 pm on March 30, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Back in January, Socialist French President Francois Hollande promised to turn the disastrously foundering ship that is the French economy around, apparently having realized that his erstwhile agenda of taxing the heck out of businesses and millionaires wasn’t going anywhere, by instead instituting tax cuts for businesses that the government hoped would boost the country’s competitiveness. Those tax cuts have yet to materialized, and in February, France’s unemployment rate again ticked upward — which was announced just in time for municipal elections this week. They didn’t go too well for the Socialists, as you might imagine. Via the Financial Times:

French President François Hollande is expected to launch a rapid shake-up of his Socialist government following a second defeat in local elections on Sunday, with big gains for the main opposition UMP party and far-right National Front. …

The main winner of the night was the centre-right UMP, party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy. It was set to gain more than 100 municipalities, capturing a majority of larger towns from the ruling party, including Toulouse, Reims, Angers and St Etienne.

According to one exit poll, the UMP and its allies won 49 per cent of the vote in all towns larger than 3,500 inhabitants, against 42 per cent for the Socialists and other parties of the left, and 9 per cent for the FN.

Jean-François Copé, head of the UMP, said the results represented a “blue wave” against Mr Hollande’s government, demanding that the president “absolutely must change policy”.

It hasn’t taken long for the “pink” wave toward Hollande’s Socialist party during his own election less than two years ago to reverse course, with most of the gains going toward the center-right UMP party — but the country’s much more right-wing National Front is getting increasing attention from voters. Robert Zaretsky at Foreign Policy compares the conservatism spreading rapidly throughout the country as Socialism’s massive economic failures mount to the quick rise of the Tea Party as a reaction to big spending and ObamaCare:

What they had to say echoes what Texas conservatives, in particular the Tea Party stalwarts, have been saying for some time: Less federal government (whether D.C. or Brussels), more traditional values, and please, no more immigrants trying to change things around here.

To be sure, close to 40 percent of voters spoke by refusing to speak at all: Never before has the abstention rate been so high in a French election. As with the Texas Democrats — scarcely half a million turned out to vote in the most recent primary — voter abstention is the ruling Socialist Party’s greatest fear. And the problem has only gotten worse as the approval ratings of national leaders have plummeted. François Hollande continues to go in public esteem where no French president has ever gone before: Just before the elections, a poll taken by the newspaper Le Figaro placed his approval rating at 17 percent. (For a little perspective, Obama’s approval ratings in Texas are hovering at just above 30 percent.)

Whether it reflected widespread apathy or hostility, France’s unprecedented abstention rate benefitted the conservative opposition’s base.

A lot of what’s uniting the conservative third party has to do with anti-immigration, anti-SSM, and anti-abortion sentiments, but it looks like pretty much all French Socialism has achieved so far is rapidly pushing more and more French citizens in the rightward direction.


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Pas mon vache!

WryTrvllr on March 30, 2014 at 6:37 PM

ma, whatever

WryTrvllr on March 30, 2014 at 6:38 PM

French Socialists lie too??

faraway on March 30, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Being a ‘right winger’ in France is like being a Liberal, here.

vnvet on March 30, 2014 at 6:43 PM

They should have tried “Bush’s fault!” It still worked in 2012 for O.

mankai on March 30, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Those tax cuts have yet to materialized,

I don’t understand French.

;)

mankai on March 30, 2014 at 6:45 PM

faraway on March 30, 2014 at 6:39 PM

All socialists lie. If they told the truth, they would never get elected to anything.

tngmv on March 30, 2014 at 6:48 PM

This elections is more a huge victory for the Marine Le Pen’s Front National than for Sarkozy’s UMP… And that’s VERY good news !

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10733342/Frances-Front-National-claims-biggest-victory-in-its-history.html

coolapic on March 30, 2014 at 6:50 PM

A lot of what’s uniting the conservative third party has to do with anti-immigration, anti-SSM, and anti-abortion sentiments,

Gee that sounds awfully familiar. If only I could make the connection as to where I’ve heard about that stuff.

And by the way, it only took hundreds of hundreds of years but Paris is going to have a gal in charge!

Happy Nomad on March 30, 2014 at 6:53 PM

And by the way, it only took hundreds of hundreds of years but Paris is going to have a gal in charge!

Happy Nomad on March 30, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Odd, she’s on the bridge, facing northeast

WryTrvllr on March 30, 2014 at 6:56 PM

but the country’s much more right-wing National Front

Why exactly are these people supposed to be right-wing? They are in favor of an expansive welfare state, they could have copied their position on free trade out of Naomi Klein books, there is no notion of “limited government” anywhere in french politics – least of all the Front National and they are like every frenchman centralists on steroids.

Valkyriepundit on March 30, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Valkyriepundit on March 30, 2014 at 6:58 PM

It’s immigration, but they still want their socialist goodies. When have the French ever got it right?

DFCtomm on March 30, 2014 at 7:04 PM

Marchon, marchon. (or something like that)

crankyoldlady on March 30, 2014 at 7:06 PM

canopfor would say le crap.

Lanceman on March 30, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Valkyriepundit on March 30, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Right wing only means the media doesn’t like them, has nothing to do with the political spectrum. It’s one of their dog whistles.

Flange on March 30, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Well, it’s a start. Until France understands that they vastly overtax theirs, and why they shouldn’t, France is most likely not going to feel a big change with this lone, but intelligent, change in leadership.

I believe it’s mostly fueled by the Muslim and Easter European influx into France that has brought burgeoning crime and social dischord along with it, the social-freebies used paid for by the French, I add.

Lourdes on March 30, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Dear France:

Embrace the suck.

307wolverine on March 30, 2014 at 7:08 PM

This is as right wing as they get. It’s going to take time because they have got used to being given things.

crankyoldlady on March 30, 2014 at 7:09 PM

As long as France makes it’s citizens fund wonderful Socialist handouts, France will be plagued with an immigration problem it can’t manage. Same goes for the US…

Lourdes on March 30, 2014 at 7:09 PM

France’s ruling Socialists lose big in local elections

Le Yay!

Le hope?

darwin on March 30, 2014 at 7:10 PM

They’re trying to find middle ground. They know they can’t go on the way they have been.

crankyoldlady on March 30, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Oui.

Bmore on March 30, 2014 at 7:14 PM

Being a ‘right winger’ in France is like being a Liberal, here.

vnvet on March 30, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Sort of helps to read before commenting.

Sarko’s party is center-right.

National Front is solid right. Front is the French equivalent of the UK and Netherlands hard-right orgs. And for them to make gains means Sarko has a real chance of moving back in.

Chirac went left when we tacked right. We then went left in ’06 and they tacked right with Sarko. We then went right in ’10 as they went hard left with Hollande. We then went back to left in 12 with Barry2, as they’ve been moving solid right.

budfox on March 30, 2014 at 7:18 PM

Being a ‘right winger’ in France is like being a Liberal, here.

vnvet on March 30, 2014 at 6:43 PM

I’d love jimver to comment on this thread. He is a French National. My impression is that in France, Germany and Great Britain, the right is turning more into what we represent here in the US. A lot has to do with a growing nationalism against the influx of the folks from the Middle East and a good deal of cultural animosity that accompanied it.

jimver?

hawkdriver on March 30, 2014 at 7:19 PM

When I was France earlier this year, the local FN party in the town I visited was running hard on anti-gay marriage and anti-immigration.

Seems like it paid off. This was a victory for social conservatism more than anything else.

Norwegian on March 30, 2014 at 7:37 PM

Seems like it paid off. This was a victory for social conservatism more than anything else.

Norwegian on March 30, 2014 at 7:37 PM

The same thing is happening in other European countries.

crankyoldlady on March 30, 2014 at 7:45 PM

No wonder they lost.No Hollandephones or no food stamp giveaways.

jeffinsjvca on March 30, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Seems like it paid off. This was a victory for social conservatism more than anything else.

Norwegian on March 30, 2014 at 7:37 PM

It’s worth noting that part of Putin’s appeal in Russia is that he is also pushing back against this stuff.

Doomberg on March 30, 2014 at 7:56 PM

If only Obama realized socialism does not work but that’s what Harvard thinks so…

sorrowen on March 30, 2014 at 8:00 PM

France gave is Eva Green so I can’t be totally made at their economic well absurdity and “equality.”

sorrowen on March 30, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Those tax cuts have yet to materialized

Grammar checkers have yet to sweep the web.

corona79 on March 30, 2014 at 8:10 PM

If only Obama realized socialism does not work but that’s what Harvard thinks so…

sorrowen on March 30, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Whether or not he knows socialism doesn’t work is immaterial to his crusade to knock America down into “another common country” territory. His agenda is to get even with a country that has prospered unfairly in the community of nations. Is Obama a genuine moron? Yes. But never underestimate his malice towards all things whitey white face and the west. As others have stated, it doesn’t take a genius to wreck a supertanker, it just takes someone with the will.

Murphy9 on March 30, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Good point he does not care I hope he will destroy himself before anything. And he seems well on his way to doing that.

sorrowen on March 30, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Does that mean that Ovamit can no longer claim he is leading from behind but rather he is just being left behind?Putin seems to act that way too.

nicknack60 on March 30, 2014 at 8:28 PM

It’s worth noting that part of Putin’s appeal in Russia is that he is also pushing back against this stuff.

Doomberg on March 30, 2014 at 7:56 PM

That comparison only works to a limited agree.

Front Nationale is adhering to democratic principles and very isolationist in foreign policy.

Putin’s United Russia has never accepted democracy and is belligerent in foreign affairs. Their adherence to social conservatism is similar to that of German Nazis in the 1930s. As long as it suited their political agenda, they were fine with it.

Norwegian on March 30, 2014 at 8:28 PM

This should be a warning to those who live at by the “generosity” of socialists, progressives, and other forms of liberals.

The free ride is ending, and you guys better start looking for a source of food.

BobMbx on March 30, 2014 at 8:31 PM

At least the PS won Paris… /sarcasm

ojfltx on March 30, 2014 at 9:02 PM

It’s worth noting that part of Putin’s appeal in Russia is that he is also pushing back against this stuff.

Doomberg on March 30, 2014 at 7:56 PM

I think that Putin is doing what he is doing because he is a hard-nosed, realistic nationalist. He is a former KGB Colonel, and you had to be a good commie to get that high. Nevertheless, Russia is in the middle of a slow-motion social/demographic collapse – and Putin knows it. That is why he is cracking down on the homosexuals, and trying to shore up churches and traditional family structures. I don’t think that he has any particular ideological affinity for it, he is just trying to stem the tide of an internal social collapse.

SubmarineDoc on March 30, 2014 at 9:11 PM

SubmarineDoc on March 30, 2014 at 9:11 PM

^^^this^^^

captnjoe on March 30, 2014 at 9:12 PM

We all know the welfare state eventually fails maybe France is finally getting it.

sorrowen on March 30, 2014 at 9:15 PM

SubmarineDoc on March 30, 2014 at 9:11 PM

Yep.

In that light, his attempts to rebuild the Red Army make perfect sense. As per the old axiom;

Gold may not always get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can always get you gold.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 30, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Valkyriepundit on March 30, 2014 at 6:58 PM

As noted, it’s not about European Socialism, it’s about nationalism. “Socialism” isn’t the problem — it’s a smokescreen for other issues the American right is still frightened to discuss. The American right backs right-leaning economics and left-wing social policies. Self-evidently, the opposite would have a much more immediate appeal to the working and middle classes. And that’s the Front Nationale: left on economics, right on “values.”

vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 10:01 PM

As noted, it’s not about European Socialism, it’s about nationalism. “Socialism” isn’t the problem — it’s a smokescreen for other issues the American right is still frightened to discuss. The American right backs right-leaning economics and left-wing social policies. Self-evidently, the opposite would have a much more immediate appeal to the working and middle classes. And that’s the Front Nationale: left on economics, right on “values.”
vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 10:01 PM You are very unspecific try issues the american right is frightens to discuss.

sorrowen on March 30, 2014 at 10:10 PM

I didn’t know specificity was necessary at this point. The GOP is sort of infamously caving on basically ever issue it’s ever stood for.

vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 10:12 PM

“Socialism” has worked pretty damn well for Germany and Scandinavia. It’s worked pretty well for France in the past, too. What’s changed? Something else.

Let’s note simultaneously that the new-right parties in Europe are also EU skeptic parties. There’s a connection between the policies of the European Union and the collapse of formerly functional “Socialist” economies.

vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Socialism only killed probably 100 million plus in the 20th Century.

Adolf and the National Socialists, Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge, North Vietnam, Uncle Joe Stalin, Mussolini who nationalized everything he could, Mousy Dung and the ChiComs, Tito, East Germany and their Stasi, the creep that Lech Walesa helped overthrow, and many more in former Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania etc.

Sacré fromage ! Maybe the Frogs are slowly waking up?

viking01 on March 30, 2014 at 10:27 PM

We live in interesting times.

Punchenko on March 30, 2014 at 10:45 PM

Even the French can figure this stuff out, what’s the matter with us?

bflat879 on March 30, 2014 at 10:55 PM

“Socialism” has worked pretty damn well for Germany and Scandinavia. It’s worked pretty well for France in the past, too.

vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Have to disagree on this. Germany (the most productive economy in Europe) has been de-socializing for years. Norway has also had a turn to the right – they realize that the North Sea oil revenues that have been funding their welfare state is not going to last forever. Similar turns to the right are also happening in other scandanavian societies.

What is happening is this – the steady erosion of the work ethic that takes place in a socialist society has finally had enough of an economic/social effect that the whole thing is grinding to a halt. And also, per Margaret Thatcher, they are finally running out of other peoples money.

SubmarineDoc on March 30, 2014 at 11:07 PM

France’s municipal elections are “out of synch” with the 5-year cycle of legislative elections, where control of the National Assembly determines the party of the Prime Minister and other Ministers (the equivalent of our Cabinet Secretaries). The French President has less power than the U.S. President, and is sometimes forced to co-govern (“cohabit” in French) with a Prime Minister and government of the opposing party.

French society is often torn between Socialists who dole out goodies for the unions, and conservatives who lower taxes. When Socialists are in power and taxing people too much, voters put conservative mayors in power to reduce local taxes, while still getting goodies from the national government. When conservatives control the national government and dole out fewer goodies, voters elect Socialist local governments to dole out goodies on the municipal level.

Probably in 4 years, French voters will elect a conservative majority in the National Assembly, then elect Socialist mayors the following year.

Steve Z on March 30, 2014 at 11:10 PM

What is happening is this – the steady erosion of the work ethic that takes place in a socialist society has finally had enough of an economic/social effect that the whole thing is grinding to a halt. And also, per Margaret Thatcher, they are finally running out of other peoples money.

SubmarineDoc on March 30, 2014 at 11:07 PM

I appreciate your equitable tone. I’m sure that’s part of it. The ennui of which you speak has also let their entire self-conception as independent nations lapse in favor of EU-style egalitarianism that has left their countries open to hostile colonization. It’s that, more than anything, that’s causing this awakening.

Speaking of Germany, though, this is a relative thing. Do you know about the German corporate theory of Co-determination? That’s downright commie by American standards. I’ll just repeat: left on economics and right on social policy seems to me to hold a much more immediate appeal to the working and middle classes.

vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 11:19 PM

I believe it’s mostly fueled by the Muslim and Easter European influx into France that has brought burgeoning crime and social dischord along with it, the social-freebies used paid for by the French, I add.

Lourdes on March 30, 2014 at 7:07 PM

More discord is caused by Muslim immigrants to France (primarily from Algeria) than those from Eastern Europe. In France, Polish immigrants are regarded as hard-working, and France has long enjoyed close ties with Romania, and welcomed anyone who managed to escape from the dictatorship of Ceaucescu. Nicolas Sarkozy himself is the son of Hungarian immigrants to France.

However, many of the Muslim immigrants to France refuse to integrate into French society, setting up ghettoes in many cities in southern France, where police and “gendarmes” fear to tread, and if a French policeman shoots a Muslim criminal, he is immediately labeled a “racist” by the far-left media in France, regardless of the reasons and circumstances of the shooting.

Even former President Jacques Chirac once complained of Muslim men who “bring their four wives and twenty children” to France, stating that “France cannot accept the misery of the entire world.”

Steve Z on March 30, 2014 at 11:22 PM

Socialism only killed probably 100 million plus in the 20th Century.

Adolf and the National Socialists, Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge, North Vietnam, Uncle Joe Stalin, Mussolini who nationalized everything he could, Mousy Dung and the ChiComs, Tito, East Germany and their Stasi, the creep that Lech Walesa helped overthrow, and many more in former Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania etc.

Well, to be fair, the Swedes haven’t killed anybody recently, and they’re pretty commie. Western Europe’s been pretty peaceful since the Second World War.

vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 11:37 PM

“Socialism” has worked pretty damn well for Germany and Scandinavia. It’s worked pretty well for France in the past, too. What’s changed? Something else.

Let’s note simultaneously that the new-right parties in Europe are also EU skeptic parties. There’s a connection between the policies of the European Union and the collapse of formerly functional “Socialist” economies.

vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Umm, no, impaler hammer, what they are realizing is that you can’t take exorbitant amounts of taxes from the young, and then still expect them to still have children. QED. National suicide.

WryTrvllr on March 30, 2014 at 11:59 PM

Well, guess who ran out of other people’s money? Suddenly socialism doesn’t look so hip and cool when you have to pay out of pocket for the privilege of being a scumbag, eh?

Diluculo on March 31, 2014 at 12:57 AM

Chirac went left when we tacked right. We then went left in ’06 and they tacked right with Sarko. We then went right in ’10 as they went hard left with Hollande. We then went back to left in 12 with Barry2, as they’ve been moving solid right.

budfox on March 30, 2014 at 7:18 PM

Conservation Law of Ideology — Who woulda thunk it?
So, who has the “swing” vote?
Is the anti-socialism in France making us vote for Democrats, or
will a US lurch to the Right in 2014 force the French to the Left?

French society is often torn between Socialists who dole out goodies for the unions, and conservatives who lower taxes. When Socialists are in power and taxing people too much, voters put conservative mayors in power to reduce local taxes, while still getting goodies from the national government. When conservatives control the national government and dole out fewer goodies, voters elect Socialist local governments to dole out goodies on the municipal level.

Probably in 4 years, French voters will elect a conservative majority in the National Assembly, then elect Socialist mayors the following year.

Steve Z on March 30, 2014 at 11:10 PM

So the pendulum is peculiarly French, and the American connection is just correlation without causation –
or a pendulum of our own, where anytime socialist policies are aggressively enacted, the populace moves to the Right to compensate.

AesopFan on March 31, 2014 at 12:58 AM

Obviously, the Socialists didn’t try distracting the peasants with bill that would increase the minimum wage and guarantee equal pay for women. /

HiJack on March 31, 2014 at 1:08 AM

Socialist wins Mayor seat in Paris.

Hopefully they keep John Kerry there.

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2014 at 1:34 AM

As noted, it’s not about European Socialism, it’s about nationalism. “Socialism” isn’t the problem — it’s a smokescreen for other issues the American right is still frightened to discuss. The American right backs right-leaning economics and left-wing social policies. Self-evidently, the opposite would have a much more immediate appeal to the working and middle classes. And that’s the Front Nationale: left on economics, right on “values.”
vlad martel on March 30, 2014 at 10:01 PM I’m still shocked your sticking up for Europeans economic ideals. France giving us Eva Green still does not make up for the fact they are broke and lacking growth. Socialism is still killing people…look at China and North Korea…

sorrowen on March 31, 2014 at 2:17 AM

That means… the French are faster learners than Americans?

Great, just great, we are a third world nation. We can’t get the Socialist’s out no matter how bad things get. It’s our media. They media refuses to tell people the truth and people keep voting Democrat.

I was in Paris last summer, they were mocking Obama openly on the news there, over Syria.

But not in America… our media walked on egg shells. We wouldn’t want the hurt the kid’s feelings or anything by tell the truth to the American people!

The French learn faster than Americans.

petunia on March 31, 2014 at 2:24 AM

Keep in mind that in France a conservative would be called a liberal in the United States.

albill on March 31, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Why is Hollande so unpopular in France? The French got the policies they voted for — they wanted even more socialism and they got it.

MarkNY on March 31, 2014 at 7:14 AM

It’s alrming the French voted for the obvious idiocy of more socialism in the first place, but then the US, which arguably knew better, voted twice for a rabble-rouser and an incompetent committed to unfeasible policies.

virgo on March 31, 2014 at 12:02 PM