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Left-leaning parties form alliance to keep lead in second round

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-03-22

Ahead of a March 21 run-off vote, France’s Socialists allied with the Greens and other left leaning parties in a deal struck on Tuesday following the Socialists’ first-place showing in round one of regional elections.

France’s Socialist Party linked up with the Greens and other left-wing parties after a frantic round of backroom horse-trading on Tuesday that followed the Socialists’ first-place showing in round one of France’s regional elections over the weekend. The alliance puts the left-leaning parties in a more advantageous position ahead of the March 21 second round.

The Socialists reached an agreement with the Greens and the Left Front (a grouping of other left-wing parties) in all but two of France’s 26 regions. The Greens declined to join the triumvirate in the northern region of Brittany while the Left Front abstained in the central region of Limousin.

The deal increases the chances of the three left-wing allies to take on the right-wing parties in the second round. For the Greens and the Left Front, the agreement secures them representation on the Socialists’ list of candidates proportionate to the votes they won in the first round.

The breakthrough pact followed a series of conflicting reports on Monday evening, with Claude Bartolone, a Socialist Party member in charge of forming political alliances, prematurely announcing that the party had reached a nationwide agreement with the Greens.

Minutes later, his report was denied by a senior member of the Green party. In an interview with the AFP news service, Jean-Vincent Placé said the reports were “very premature” and maintained that the announcement by the Socialists “left us perplexed”.
The opposition Socialist Party triumphed over the ruling UMP party in Sunday’s first round, winning 29.48 percent of the vote against the UMP’s 26.18 percent. The European Greens garnered 12.47 percent, ahead of the right-wing National Front’s 11.74 percent.
A coalition of the far left, the Left Front, won up to 5.7 percent of votes, bettering the centrist MoDem party, historically France’s third most successful party, which struggled to reach 4.24 percent on Sunday.
A second-round ballot will be staged March 21, with only the leading parties going forward to the conclusive vote, which will decide who runs France’s 26 regions.
Since no single party won an outright majority in any region in the first round, the runoff is crucial for France’s leading political parties.
Under French law, any party that wins more than 10 percent of the vote in the first round can team up with any party that won more than 5 percent and present a joint list of candidates for the second round.
Sunday’s results were widely viewed as a referendum of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 34 months in power. However, voter antipathy resulted in a record low turnout for a regional election, with a 53.65 percent abstention rate. 


Date created : 2010-03-16


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