The traditional parties of the right and the left have already been suffering for years in France, and the first round of the presidential election on Sunday hammered a new nail in their coffin.
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According to the first estimates, the Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo got a humiliating and unprecedented result, about 2% or even less, and the victory of the Republicans (on the right) Valerie Pecres predicted a historic defeat by about 5% of the vote.
Upon the announcement of the results, the Parisian hall in which the Socialist Evening was held froze in silence.
Ms Hidalgo called for the April 24 vote on Emmanuel Macron to confront the far-right, while promising that the fight would continue to “disrupt the unjust projects” implemented by the outgoing president, she said.
“We will work to bring together the scattered left that has not been able to unite (…) to re-weave the bonds (…) with the working classes,” she said.
The downfall of the Socialist House, undermined by its ideological divisions and ego battles, accelerated under President François Hollande (2012-2017), who was forced to give up running for a second term in 2017.
Backed by the candidate who nonetheless came from among its ranks, Emmanuel Macron, the Socialist Party scored a historic failure in the first round, with its candidate Benoit Hamon winning only 6.36% of the vote.
The mayor of Paris, 62, scores today an even more bitter defeat.
She was never able to get off the ground and her campaign was marked by proposals described as unrealistic or demagogic, such as doubling teacher salaries, and reluctance to organize an elementary school to unite the left.
For the political scientist and former right-wing elected official Dominique Resnais, who set the beginning of the decline of the Socialist Party in the mid-1980s, “The left was never able to find its popular classes, because instead of making some kind of revolution, they remained a party of elected officials and civil servants,” he said. It’s not illegal, but it’s not enough.”
On the right, the Gaullist-inspired LR (Les Républicains) party has never recovered after the defeat of its leader and outgoing boss Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012, and has struggled for a long time to find a leader.
Ile-de-France (Paris Region) President Valerie Pecres created the illusion for a while by rising in the opinion polls after being appointed after a hard-line primaries. But she ended up in the background, with between 4.5% and 5.1% of the vote according to estimates, an unprecedented degree for her coaching.
“It is a personal and collective disappointment,” admitted Valerie Pecres, remembering her “commitment against extremism,” and immediately announced that she would vote “in conscience” for Emmanuel Macron in the second round.
Ms. Pécresse failed to impose a clear discourse between the radical of a portion of the LR, and the assertion of a republican right that is not influenced by the ideas of the far right.
“The problem with the right today is that it is torn between a moderate electorate that was with Macron, and which does not find itself in its authoritarian drift, even xenophobic, and an aging electorate that is very conservative and seduced by the rhetoric of extremism. Explains political scientist Remy Lefevre in the magazine Grand Continent dated 7 April.
“What happened to the Socialist Party” in 2017, between Macron and the leader of the radical left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. “The right is now in an impasse between Macron and the extreme right.”
The upturn on the political landscape of former radical polemicist Eric Zemmour, and his stated ambition to erase the boundaries between right and far right, has paid off. In the fall, Eric Ciutti, a senior member of the LR party, said he would rather vote for Mr. Zemmour than Mr. Macron, breaking the already fragile “immune cord” that historical leaders of the right, including former President Jacques Chirac, who has died, have been calling for. year 2019.
Socialists and Republicans alike will now turn their eyes to the legislative elections in June, which promise to be an almost vital issue.
The Socialist Party currently includes 25 deputies out of 577 deputies. “And this will indeed raise questions about survival, because in France the public grants that finance most political parties are calculated on the basis of the result of the legislative elections and the number of deputies. Frédéric Sawicki, a professor of political science at the University of California, said that if the very poor outcome of the presidential election was added to a catastrophe in the legislative elections (…), the question of the survival of the party in its current form would arise.” University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
We are witnessing a reconfiguration of French political life with this new bipolarity between the centrists and the far right. and with the traditional government parties, the Socialist Party and the Republicans, who together hold less than 10% of the vote. This says a lot about the political development in France, political expert Gaspar Estrada told AFP.
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