On Sunday, June 17, 2012, France elected its new National Assembly. As expected by latest polls and first round of the elections on June 10, the Socialist party got an absolute majority. The Guardian notes that this is a "historic concentration of [left] power" as the Socialists now control Senate and Assembly. So for Hollande, the socialist President of France, it should be quite comfortable now to push through the reforms he announced already in his election campaign: fight the Euro debt crises by remodeling the current policies towards a more growth oriented strategy, help the poor in his country, take actions against unemployment, and raise taxes on the richest
Interestingly, the socialists did not focus one those goals to mobilize voters but rather warned them of the political deadlock that would occur if the conservatives would win. However, this strategy turned out to be successful. The socialists were able to claim over 300 seats out of the 577 assembly seats. Thus, they can pretty much pass laws without having to turn to their allied parties, the Green and far-Left. Their allied the Green party hold 19 seats, which enables them to form to a parliament group for the first time in France. While the former leading party UMP, had internal struggles about posts, losing many voters, the far-right Front National won two seats and is therefore reelected into parliament for the first time since 1986. (See Guradian, June 17, 2012 and Washington Post, June 17, 2012)
|French National Assembly, Photo: beatcrave, May 12, 2009|
Many experts and also the New York times have argued, that the success of the socialists is more of a rejection of Sarkozy's policies. French people were frustrated with the way the UMP lead the country. It is said that, due to Sarkozy's inability to tackle the economic problems and due to his closeness to Merkel, France gave to much power away to Germany. Their idea of austerity for Europe, is disliked by many French voters.
“The French in general grew tired of Mr. Sarkozy and were anxious about the economy and unemployment, at its highest rate in 12 years. But neither were they passionate about Mr. Hollande, who has never served in government.” (New York Times, June 18, 2012)
I wonder if there would have been an other candidate, if he or she would have succeeded equally. Yet, France has given a clear signal with its voting results. Even if the motivation of voting socialists was mainly driven by dissatisfaction with the former government, the socialist now have to face great challenges.
"With a new, solid, large majority we can pass laws for change," said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "It gives us great responsibilities both in France and in Europe." (BBC, June 18, 2012)
France wants to have more say in the European dept crises, even if that means heavy debates with Germany, they call for reforms to secure and stabilize their own economy and jobs.
“Sooner than one might have expected he is shifting the tactical balance in eurozone politics away from Berlin. He has rallied the leaders of Italy and Spain and next week at a leaders' summit in Brussels he will present a 'Covenant for Growth', an 11-page proposal for 120bn euros of investment in the eurozone economy.” (BBC, June 18, 2012)
This power shift in France will have great impact on European politics, whether it will be positive depends on various factors. Yet, it might bring alternative solutions to the European dept crises.