17 March 2008

Socialists gain ground in municipal elections

There are 37 cities in France with a population greater that 100,000, and now 25 of them are controlled by leftist, mainly Socialist Party, mayors. Cities including Toulouse, Strasbourg, Périgueux, Reims, Rouen, and Metz elected Socialist mayors, some of them for the first time in generations. Major cities that remain under the control of the right wing — most by President Sarkozy's UMP party — include Bordeaux, Nice, and Marseille.

The mayor's office in Metz had been held by the right for 160 years!

I don't have any election pictures. This was the view
from the kitchen window yesterday. It rained all day.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoë was re-elected in Paris with 57% of the vote, an unprecedented performance for a Socialist candidate in the French capital.

Locally, the mayor's post in Blois was recaptured by the Socialists after 7 years of a right-wing administration.

Callie came in just under the wire!

One of the biggest pieces of news after the second round of municipal elections, however, is that 38% of the people eligible to vote didn't even go to the polls. That's the highest abstention rate ever.

Centrist politician François Bayrou was unsuccessful in his run to be mayor of the city of Pau. He lost by 450 votes out of the 36,000 cast in that city.

This was Callie just before she rolled in something very stinky.

The left-leaning newspaper Libération points out that 7 of the 10 biggest French cities are now in the hands of the Socialists.

The right-leaning newspaper Le Figaro says that of cities with a population greater than 30,000, the left now controls 183 and the right 124, which represents a net gain of 38 cities by the left.

In Paris, which each of the city's 20 arrondissements has its own mayor, the right controls most of the western areas of the city and the left controls most of the east.

This is our house and yard. Can anybody tell me
the name of the big evergreen tree on the left side here?

According to Le Monde, the French newspaper of reference, the left (the Parti Socialiste and its allies) won 49.5% of the vote overall, and the right (the UMP and its allies) won 47.5%.

Meanwhile, the left now controls two-thirds of France's 100 administrative départements (which might be compared to U.S. counties). Members of the departmental councils were decided in yesterday's élections cantonales.

In our region, according the the newspaper La Nouvelle République, the Socialists gained ground in this election. They remained in control of towns including Amboise, Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, Romorantin, Poitiers, Le Mans, La Rochelle, Nantes, Tours, Angers, Vendôme, and Chinon. And they won in Blois and Vierzon.

The right maintained control in Bourges, Châteauroux, Loches, Orléans, and Chartres. In Saumur, the leftisit mayor was defeated by a UMP candidate.

The neighbors' lilac bush stands out against a stucco background.

According to Le Figaro, the right wing took control in Saint-Aignan. The new mayor, Jean-Michel Billon, ran with a coalition of right-leaning councilors and was elected by nearly 59% of the vote against outgoing mayor Yves Piau, a Socialist. Vote totals were Billon 934, Piau 659. There goes Saint-Aignan, bucking the national trend!

And the biggest news for us is this item that Roselyne brought with the morning's baguette. The new mayor of our village is going to be our neighbor two houses up the road. She's been on the village council for several years, and she told us in January that she is planning to retire from her job in June. She and her husband are planning a trip to the U.S. in the fall.


  1. It is obvious that after almost a year at the helm Sarkozy didn't deliver.

  2. I looked forward to today's post and your comments on the election. Last night we followed results on the European Tribune and lemonde websites. We looked up results for 8 or 9 villages we've visited (as well as Saint Aignan; congrats on having a mayor as your neighbor) and ALL went UMP. The big news seems to be the cities going left, but if our small sample would prove true across the board, will the number of small towns that are rightist affect the ability of the left to change the senate?

  3. A 62% turnout would be high for local elections in the UK - but then again, as many commentators here point out, "local" government here seems a lot more remote and is much more tightly controlled by central legislation and funding.

    A fall in both turnout and votes for one side or the other suggests a certain disenchantment among that side's supporters (enough to keep them at home), while the other side's enthusiasm is either the same or raised. Which is no surprise after Sarko's shenanigan-filled first year. I gather much noise is being made about him changing style and getting down to more serious considerations - see http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/blog/franceprofonde/

  4. Sigh...I would have voted for Bayrou - he's by far the most fanciable of the current batch of male politicians :-)

    I can't ID your conifer - not really my area of expertise - it looks kind of familiar, but I can't dredge up a name. I'll check my books when I get a chance.

    Glad you got the recipes - I only checked because I'd had something go astray to a friend in Paris not so long ago. As well as the croissants aux amandes, my culinary triumphs this weekend included soufflés that came out of the oven having turned blue !! and a sensational syllabub to go with champagne rhubarb. (The blue soufflés were made using blood oranges, and I can only think that something in the process caused the mixture to become more alkaline, which changed the colour of the anthocyanin in the oranges - the same natural colouring as you get in beetroots.) Anyway, we've eaten them and lived to tell the tale.


  5. Rodez went left for the 1st time in 55 years -- and has been mentioned in the press all over the world for that.

    Millau went left too..

  6. The first photo reminded me of this poem:

    Merle, merle, joyeux merle,
    Ton bec jaune est une fleur,
    Ton oeil noir est une perle,
    Merle, merle, oiseau siffleur.

    from "Le merle à la glu"
    Jean RICHEPIN (1849-1926)
    (Recueil : La chanson des gueux)

  7. Congratulations to the French for the Socialist vote. I can only hope that the left in the U.S. can oust the conservatives. The U.S. economy is in bad straits--the Bush administration doesn't believe in regulation of any kind and therefore the bad subprime loans made a lot of bankers rich and a lot of people poor.

  8. I've checked my books for your tree. I think it might be a Western Hemlock Spruce Tsuga heterophylla. Grows up to 70m, native to the west coast of North America. The thing I noticed immediately about your tree is the drooping ends on the leading shoots - this is pretty distinctive and reminded me of something. I realised looking at my books that what it reminded me of was Deodar, a type of cedar, but I don't think that's what it is, but there aren't that many conifers with that distinctive character. Check the needles on the tree - if they are flattened and dark green above and with two broad white bands below the tree is Western Hemlock Spruce.

  9. Louise, the French senate isn't at all comparable to the American senate. The French senators are elected not by universal suffrage but by an electorate restricted to local officials. More of those officials are now affiliated with the left, mainly the Socialists, so these elections municipales et cantonales will have an effect. I don't know when the next senatorial elections are scheduled to be held.

  10. Susan and Simon, thanks for the tree identification work. I'll go look at its needles today and let you know what my diagnosis is.

    Gabby, you are right about regulation in the U.S. The news is pretty scary. The dollar's long slide is especially worrisome for people like us. In 2002, the dollar would get you €1.25. Now it will get you €0.62. So the dollar is worth about half what it was when Bush took over the presidency.


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