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June 10, 2012

French Left Surges Ahead in Legislative Elections

by Lisa Bryant

PARIS -  France's left surged ahead in the first round of legislative elections on Sunday. Initial results showed leftist parties capturing 47.1 percent of the vote, compared to 35.4 percent for the center right. But France's new Socialist President Francois Hollande is not assured of an absolute majority in parliament. 

 

The French left hailed its gains in the first round of legislative voting Sunday. Socialist Party head Martine Aubry said it signaled a call for change on the part of the country's electorate. 

 

Speaking on TV, Aubrey said the left's score was much higher than during the last legislative elections, in 2007. But she warned that nothing was certain, and urged French to vote in the runoffs next Sunday. 

 

With voter turnout at less than 60 percent in this first round, the center-right UMP party delivered the same "get-out-the" vote" message. 

 

Also speaking on French TV, UMP head Jean-Francois Cope put a positive spin on the right's score. He said many French are worried that President Francois Hollande will increase taxes and roll back the fight against crime. 

 

The country's new Socialist leader is hoping for a clear-cut majority in the lower house to push through a series of economic and social reforms. For its part, the right is hoping to staunch the leftist wave that toppled former President Nicolas Sarkozy in last month's presidential elections. 

 

In interviews on Sunday, French voters expressed wide-ranging concerns, ranging from the state of the economy to the eurozone crisis. 

 

In the Paris suburb of Neuilly Plaisance, Eric Manfredi, who teaches public law, cast his vote for the Greens Party. 

 

"I believe ecological issues are the biggest issues of the next century. And we've got to fight for it," he said. 

 

French voters head back to the polls next Sunday for the second and final round of voting.