It’s regional election season in France, with elections happening the last two (2!) Sundays.  Sundays are the new Tuesdays, here.  As far as I can tell, the first Sunday was a sort of primary, where basically anyone who can get fifty signatures can get their name on the ballot.  The next week is the real elections, where only people who received a certain percentage of the vote are eligible to run in the second election.  Interestingly, if your party didn’t quite make the necessary percent of the vote, there’s all sorts of back-room dealing with other almosts to get names on the ballot.  I don’t really understand it all yet, I was hoping  for some 538 coverage, but it didn’t happen.

Daniel said that the first  Sunday was voting for the candidates you want, and the next week is for voting against the candidates you don’t want.  Le Monde has made a bunch of nice graphs to break down the regional results, which are interesting because there’s a lot of parties splitting the vote.

La carte du rapport de force gauche/droite
LEMONDE.FR | 14.03.10

© Le Monde.fr
There’s a lot of parties to keep track of, which is kinda fun.  There’s PS, the socialist party, which is the biggest leftist-party.  There’s the center-right UMP (Union for Popular Movement),  Sarkozy’s party that rapidly rose to power.  But then there’s the green party, Europe Ecologie (EE).  There’s Le Pen’s Front National,the  crazed right party popular in the southeast.  Front de gauche, the commie leftists.   The centrist Mouvement Democrate.  NPA, the Nouveau Partie Anticapitaliste.  The Lutte Ouvriere (Workers’ Struggle) Marxist party.  These are just the parties that picked up more than one percent across all of France (and I’m sure I missed some).

This Sunday was the second election, with Sarkozy’s party and Le Pen’s party taking on the green/leftist super party.  The Super party crushed everyone, except in Alsace, but they like to be different.  Everyone is pissed off at Sarkozy, because he was elected as a reformer but the economy is flat and unemployment is still high.  He’s polling in the thirties, and today is “No Sarkozy Day.”  Supposedly all the olds didn’t want to vote for Sarkozy, and there’s a centrist-right vacuum at the moment, so they just stayed home. Consequently, voter turnout was low. A little over fifty percent. For a regional election.  Everyone was shocked by how low voter turnout was, which pushed the ratio of FN votes higher.  FN is the anti-immigrant mildly racist party popular in the Southeast, and everyone else haaates them.  I think FN is the tea party blemish of French politics that everyone is embarrassed about.

The results have been seen as a strong voter smackdown, producing such hilarious posters as the one at the top of this post.  FDG seems to be the only party advertising in a fashion even close to American politics, otherwise politics are quite sedate.  FDG does manage to keep a frequently updated bulletin board in both the main hallway of LAC and the dining hall.  No one seems to much mind.

I’m still trying to determine how much everything skews left here (and everything clearly skews left).  The impression I have is that even FN would have gotten blacklisted in Hollywood.  It’s fascinating to see politics in a land where Communism isn’t a bad word – hammer and sickle imagery has a legitimate place in semi-mainstream French politics.  I’m excited to see what the run-up to the national election is like in two years.  Happy No Sarkozy Day!