Not a coup d’état, no matter how French the word. Though, perhaps a coup de grâce…
While the reports are early, and my knowledge of French national politics and internal dealings is limited, it seems that the Left has taken control of the French Upper House, the Senate, for the first time since 1958 and the birth of the Fifth Republic.
The recent results show that the Socialist Party and their allies, the Communists and the Greens, have formed an absolute majority against the Union for a Popular Movement/Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) dominated right. Early results show the left taking 23 seats from the right in an embarassing showing for Sarkozy, just seven months before the Presidential election.
“The 25th of September, 2011, will go down in history”, claimed Jean-Pierre Bel, head of the Socialist group in the French Senate.
But why is this? Surely, it was long-established fact that Sarkozy would lose out to Marine Le Pen, the enigmatic and attractive leader of the far-right Front National, a party consistently polling higher than Sarkozy’s UMP since its move to normalisation?
Perhaps France isnt turning as hardline rightist, isolationist, xenophobic, eurosceptic and nationalist as we imagined? Perhaps this is the French people drawing a line in the sand and disassociating themselves from the Right? Perhaps it IS a form of nationalism, a turning disapproving vote of euroscepticism against a bail-out-backing, federalist UMP? Perhaps it shows support for Dominique Strauss-Kahn? Perhaps it shows the FN are unable to motivate their supports to actually get out and vote? Or perhaps that they didn’t bother for mere Senate elections? Or perhaps it is more of a protest against the apparently endemic corruption in Sarkozy’s inner circle? Perhaps this is the nail in Sarkozy’s political coffin.
Whichever, this surely shows all will not be smooth sailing to the Élysée for Sarkozy or Le Pen…