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Regional elections a first test of ruling party

March 14, 2010 - FRANCE

France's regional election will signal whether the French left is recovering. It overwhelmingly won the last regional elections, in 2004, but lost the presidency in 2007 because of chronic internal squabbling: Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the center-right Union for Popular Movement Party (UMP), defeated Ségolène Royal of the Socialist Party. If the left loses again, it will mirror a trend. Germany recently re-elected its right-leaning government, and Britain seems poised to elect a conservative in 2010.

France's regional election will signal whether the French left is recovering. It overwhelmingly won the last regional elections, in 2004, but lost the presidency in 2007 because of chronic internal squabbling: Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the center-right Union for Popular Movement Party (UMP), defeated Ségolène Royal of the Socialist Party. If the left loses again, it will mirror a trend. Germany recently re-elected its right-leaning government, and Britain seems poised to elect a conservative in 2010. Rising unemployment, a rising budget deficit, recent scandals, simmering concern over plans to abolish a local tax and impose a tax on carbon emissions and a split in the ruling party all have contributed to a drop in the popularity of Sarkozy and his party's conservative platform. Reuters notes that the debate over a loan Sarkozy is seeking to help the country out of recession has laid bare fresh divisions in the UMP and reveals differing economic philosophies in the president's parliamentary camp. Worried by a soaring debt and deficit, some supporters want the loan the president is pressing for to come in at under 50 billion. Leftist parties also lost vote share across Europe to environmental parties. The left polled poorly in the European Parliament, and Germany's once-dominant Social Democrats received only 23 per cent in the national election, its worst showing since World War II. Italy's left is also finding recovery difficult. Nov/09

Sarkozy returns to his political roots (NYT 28 Oct 2009)

Sarkozy son renounces top job after nepotism row (AFP 22 Oct 2009)

Ministry: French regional elections in March (Taiwan News/AP 4 Nov 2009)

Date written/update: 2010-03-14