French Left given mandate for change

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French Left given mandate for change

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After the Sarkozy ‘hyper-presidency’ ushered in five years ago with the new-style hyperactive showbiz glitz of Nicolas Sarkozy, France is getting used to the idea of a ‘hyper-majority’ for the new Socialist government and its ‘Mr. Normal’ president. The PS has won a landslide victory in Sunday’s general election, and a massive mandate from the electorate.

A red tide has washed across France, flushing over 100 centre-right MPs from power, several of them ministers. Such is the scale of the win the Socialists can govern alone, without any help from their allies the Greens, whose 20 seats make them France’s third political force, and who enter parliament as a group for the first time.

“We’ll restructure the country by making the French make an effort, but fairly, particularly with fiscal reforms. Yes, it will be difficult but it’s the task that has fallen upon us,” said Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Former presidential candidate Segolene Royale was the notable Socialist casualty, unseated by a dissident Socialist and undermined by a whispering campaign from within her own party.

A Le Pen will sit in parliament again; Jean-Marie getting his granddaughter Marion Marechal, 22 years old, elected in the far-right hotspot of Carpentras. She will have just one colleague in the Front Nationale’s return to parliament after 25 years in the wilderness, a maverick media-hungry lawyer who is beyond the control of the party hierarchy. Party leader Marine Le Pen failed to get elected.

The French press is talking about the historic result and the burden of expectations it places on the Socialists. The right is floundering.

“My role now is to is to embark on some deep thinking about our programme, get all our big ideas on the table, ideas that will allow us to build the future, and to ensure no-one forgets that we need unity,” said the centre-right UMP’s Jean-François Copé.

Five years ago President Sarkozy was elected on a similar wave of hope, and a belief he offered a clean break with a failed past. The French left must now hope it can do better, and not squander the chance they have snatched at the polls.