Tags: le pen | sarkozy | france | local | elections

Sarkozy, Le Pen Gain as French Punish Hollande in Local Vote

Monday, 30 Mar 2015 06:27 AM

 French voters vented their anger at President Francois Hollande in local elections, benefiting former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP and Marine Le Pen’s National Front.

The UMP won control of between 65 and 68 departments, compared with between 32 and 35 for Hollande’s Socialists, who previously had 61, according to projections by pollsters. The anti-immigrant, anti-euro National Front gained elected officials across the country, although it failed to take power in any one district. The Interior Ministry provides final results later today.

“With their vote, the French have expressed their anger, their fatigue with life that is too difficult: unemployment, taxes and a high cost of living,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said late Sunday in Paris.

The French economy has barely grown since Hollande took the presidency in May 2012 and jobless claims have risen and remain near a record high of 3.5 million. France’s tax burden is the highest in the euro area. Sarkozy said he takes the vote as a sign his party can take back power in 2017.

The French have “massively rejected” Hollande’s policies, Sarkozy said. “I’m convinced a change of government is” inevitable.

Ninety-eight of France’s 101 departments voted to select 4,108 representatives to serve six-year terms on councils, which have responsibility for local transport and some health and education spending. Voting took place in 2,054 “cantons,” with each selecting one man and one woman.

Going Mainstream

CSA estimates that the UMP won between 1,125 and 1,155 cantons, the Socialists and their allies won between 746 and 776 and the National Front won as many as 54. It was unclear Sunday evening whether the result would give the Front power in any one department.

The National Front, or FN as it is known, is seeking to convince the electorate it has transformed from a protest party tinged with racism and Holocaust denial to one that leader Le Pen says has a credible shot at the presidency in 2017.

“We are building the tissue of our party for the future through these local votes,” FN Vice-President Florian Philippot said on I-tele. “Sovereignty, economic patriotism,” that is what we are fighting for, he said.

Hollande’s Challenge

As he approaches the final two years of his five year mandate, Hollande is looking to economic recovery to generate renewed support for his party and policies. Valls Sunday pledged new measures to boost investment and growth within days.

“Our economy is improving thanks to reforms we have put in place to boost competitiveness,” he said. “In the coming days there will be new measures to support both public and private investment as well as measures to incentivize work.”

The government and the European Commission estimate that the French economy will expand about 1 percent this year, up from less than 0.4 percent in the previous three years. With low oil prices boosting household purchasing power, a weaker euro making French exports more competitive and the European Central Bank starting quantitative easing, Valls said Friday growth may reach an annualized pace of 1.5 percent by year end.

“The left has to show in the final part of this mandate of Francois Hollande that it assumes the responsibilities of governing, so that France is stronger in the global economy, but also more just,” Valls said.


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French voters vented their anger at President Francois Hollande in local elections, benefiting former president Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP and Marine Le Pen's National Front. The UMP won control of between 65 and 68 departments, compared with between 32 and 35 for Hollande's...
le pen, sarkozy, france, local, elections
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2015-27-30
Monday, 30 Mar 2015 06:27 AM
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