Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Sarkozy's UMP a winner in France

So ends France's series of 2007 elections...
France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had a modest win in the French polls over the weekend.

His conservative UMP party won the most seats in France's parliament, but did not live up to the high expectations placed upon it for this election. Europe seems to be continuing its turn to the moderate right, just as South and Latin America see a more populist left transformation.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party says it will press ahead with wide-ranging reforms, after winning a majority in parliamentary elections.

Although the centre-right UMP failed to secure a predicted landslide, it said it had a mandate to implement change.

Its plans include tighter immigration laws, tax cuts and longer jail terms.

Since it is a pain to write out all the election numbers, here is what the seat composition of the French National Assembly looks like by party (source: BBC News):

Crunching the numbers
So the Socialists gained seats, going from 141 in 2002 to 185 in this past election. Its chief rival and the only party with more seats is the center-right UMP, which had a weakened majority compared to in 2002: UMP lost 43 seats. By my tally there are 577 total seats in the parliament, and approximately 349 belong to right-leaning parties, 226 to left-leaning ones, and 2 others to spare. The two biggest parties, UMP and the Socialists, have 499 seats combined. UMP has a 54.42% majority overall.

Royal couple split
On another note, Sarkozy's former Socialist challenger in the presidential election election earlier this year, Segolene Royal, has revealed she is splitting with the Socialist party leader Francois Hollande for personal reasons. They were partners for 25 years and have four children. Royal also announced she is running for the position of party chair, which Hollande currently occupies. Oddly enough, this further development of the rift on the left side of French politics ousted Sarkozy's election win from the top news story. Kind of like how the announcement of Apple's iPhone (ooh, shiny and cool!) overshadowed Bush's much-awaited Iraq troop "surge" speech?

Sarko hearts 'reform'
Hopefully Sarkozy will reform France's restricted economy. The public sector is far too large; government intervention makes growth hard; and the economy needs to be liberalized overall. The cabinet might now be shuffled and additional aspects of the new government ironed out.

As expected Sarkozy aligned himself with US President Bush at the G8 summit earlier this year — to an extent. He also worked with his fellow world leaders to push Bush into a wall on climate change, resulting in at least a half-hearted attempt at jabbing the issue. Apparently the French leader was also caught drunk at the G8.

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