The elections were meant to be about regional issues, but the result is seen very much as the return of the left on the French national stage. Despite some upbeat headlines about the President’s determination to react, few doubt that the vote is a sanction on Sarkozy and his government.
Unemployment stands at more than ten percent and many people are struggling to make ends meet.
“I think the French have kind of had enough,” said one male voter in Paris. “Sarkozy’s made quite a few mistakes which means that people have voted left. It’s not just the Socialist Party, it’s the whole of the left that’s come together.”
Almost fifty percent of the electorate did not turn out to vote.
“It’s a reaction against Sarkozy’s politics, that’s for sure,” said one woman, “but in the end what’s worrying is the rise of the National Front”.
The left’s success is a repeat of the 2004 regional elections. But, as it learned to its cost three years later, turning this result into a presidential victory is another task altogether.