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France: dangerous liaisons?

France: dangerous liaisons?
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France’s second round of voting for who enters parliament promises to be a tighter race than perhaps ever before, between the socialists (PS), conservative UMP and far right Front National (FN).

This is because in round one the FN scored more than 13 percent, setting the scene for dozens of duels.

The French call a round two vote with three parties running a candidate a ‘triangulaire’.

In the 2007 legislative elections, there was one of these.

This year there will be 35 ‘triangulaires’ – almost all involving the Front National.

A ‘triangulaire’ happens when a round one third-placed candidate got at least 12.5 percent of the vote.

She or he can bow out, or stay in for round two.

Either case influences how many votes the others get.

FN pulling out favours the UMP, to the detriment of the PS.

If the UMP desists, it is good for the FN.

It is called a ‘front républicain’ when a UMP or PS candidate withdraws to let the other try to defeat the FN.

This year’s novelty is the weakening of the ‘front républicain’.

The separation between the UMP conservatives and the far right FN has become more porous.

Analysts say that taking a principled stand at this stage will not win this election for the UMP, even though its secretary-general Jean François Copé said:

“We have debated our position and it is perfectly clear. Voting for the Front National candidate is out of the question, naturally. But it is also out of the question to vote for a socialist candidate.”

But there are members of the UMP who share convictions with the National Front, and they are not as shy about it as they may have been in the past.

In the south, near Marseilles, for instance, a UMP candidate has decided to bow out so the FN’s has a better chance.

Roland Chassain said: “Some values need to be highlighted: immigrants getting the vote, the opposition, Schengen, lack of security and of course welfare. It’s all we talk about in this region.”

In one odd case, the Front is telling people to vote socialist: in the Essone constituency, because FN leader Marine Le Pen wants revenge against the UMP’s Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who rubbished her proposals in a book.

In La Rochelle, in western France, a politically damaging media row has centred on the socialists, where PS dissident Olivier Falorni refuses to stand aside for Segolene Royal, former partner of President Hollande.

His new partner, Valerie Trierweiler, has publicly supported Falorni against Royal.