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Reds Stomp Cons

photo: cafe terrace, closed sunday

Not all terraces are open on Sundays.

''It's a Nightmare!''

Paris:– Monday, 29. March 2004:– Last night, within an hour of the closing of the polls, France's electoral map changed from mostly blue to nearly entirely red – or rose, as the Socialists would prefer.

France–2's election night coverage repeatedly reported wins for the Socialists with their leftist and Green allies one after another, until the score for the regional elections was 20 to one in favor of the left. This morning Le Parisien gave the rose camp a score of 20 regions, leaving the right–wing in control of only one region, Alsace.

Corsica's final result remained uncertain after a heavy voter turnout of almost 75 percent. Here the government's UMP candidate was in the lead with 25.05 percent of the votes cast, but facing six opposition candidates with the other 74.95 prcent.

The rose tidalwave also captured three out of four overseas regions.

In the last regional elections in 1998, the right–wing won control of 14 regions and the left, eight.

Voter turnout for the second–round voting yesterday was 65.4 percent of registered voters, compared to 62.1 percentphoto: socialist huchon, ile de france who voted a week earlier. The mild and sunny spring–like weather did not deter voters from expressing their opinions.

After the slap given to the government's candidates in the first–round voting a week ago, yesterday's vote was the equivalent of a knockout blow.

Despite a lousy poster position, Huchon wins in Ile–de–France region.

Président Jacques Chirac now has to consider whether to dump Prime Minister Raffarin – who saw his 'home' region snatched from his long–time grasp by Ségolène Royal, a Socialist, with a score of 55 percent.

Mr Chirac has a couple of major problems. No government minister who was competing in the regional elections won yesterday, which means that if he wants to replace the Prime Minister, he is very short of likely candidates. A snap poll made by Le Parisien after the balloting, gave the highest but a lukewarm score to Nicolas Sarkozy, the present Minister of the Interior.

The rout was so complete that even former Président Valéry Giscard d'Estaing lost his seat in the Auvergne, where he has been a power since 1956, to an almost unknown Socialist, Pierre–Joël Bonté.

In Paris–Ile de France, despite all the heavy guns the government threw into the battle, Jean–Paul Huchon was reelected with a score of 49.2 percent. The Front National's star, Marine Le Pan, had to settle for 10.1 percent of the ballots, which certainly detracted from the 40.6 percent gained by the right–wing's candidate, Jean–François Copé.

In Alsace, only in Alsace – the right's UMP candidate Adrien Zeller edged out the rose camp by nine points with the aid of the dissident UDF party, and will probably be able to control the region despite the high Front National score of 22 percent.

This was the best the FN could do in France. For all regions, the FN's average score has been estimated at 12.9 percent, down several points from their 1998 score.

In Paris – a city, a department and part of the Ile de France region – leftist parties won majoritiesphoto: tuileries pool, arc carrousel in 13 arrondissements, adding to the left's domination in the Ile de France. Disaffected researchers in the traditionally rightist 5th arrondissement helped push its majority to the left. Overall, the FN lost two points in the city from last Sunday to this Sunday, getting only 6.1 percent yesterday.

Voters taking it easy after a hard day at the polls.

The final score for all France attributed 50 percent of the vote to the Socialists and their left–leaning allies, 38 percent to the right–wing, and 12.8 percent for the ultra–right–wing Front National.

Pieces of the Puzzle

Including Corsica, there 22 regions in France, plus four others overseas. Regions are formed by groups of departments, and are gaining in importance because of recognition by the European Union and attempts at decentralization by the national government in Paris.

But, as former Socialist Minister of Finance, Laurent Fabius put it, as decision–making competence is transferred from the central government to regions, the money isn't.

The two–ballot system for voting in regional elections has been revisd to give 25 'bonus seats' to leading candidates so that coalitions would be less likely to be necessary, which had been the case in the past. Only candidates who get more than ten percent of the vote in the first round compete in the second and final round of balloting.

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