French Left Takes Majority in Senate

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 12:20 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

For the first time in modern French history the Socialist Party and their left-leaning allies control the French Senate.

France's opposition Socialists are claiming victory in Sunday's elections, leaving President Nicolas Sarkozy without a majority in the upper house as he prepares to announce an expected re-election bid.

The Socialist Party now controls 177 Senate seats, two more than needed for an absolute majority. Just seven months prior to the presidential election, many view the Socialist win as a big loss for conservative President Sarkozy and his UMP party.

The right had controlled the Senate since the Fifth Republic was founded in 1958. Conservatives do maintain a majority in the National Assembly.

The historic swing comes just seven months ahead of presidential elections. Though the Senate vote has no direct bearing on next April's poll, the defeat signals broader voter discontent with Mr. Sarkozy's party. Mr. Sarkozy will likely face Socialist Francois Hollande in the presidential election.

The French leader is struggling with some of the lowest ratings of any recent French president. In addition to criticism over his government's handling of the economy and unemployment, Mr. Sarkozy is also embroiled in a corruption probe linked to arms sales.

Sunday's senate election was an indirect electoral process comprised of approximately 72,000 elected officials casting their votes. The electorate is comprised of local mayors plus local and regional council members. April's presidential election is a general election.