GEX The first round of the French municipal elections confirmed the growing force of the right. With record breaking abstentions (38.7% failed to vote), towns such as Perpignan, Avignon, Forbach, Fréjus and Tarascon saw the Front National (FN) take the lead. More locally, the conservative parties (UMP, DVD and FN) have done well, especially in the Haute-Savoie. In Ain, though more disputed – especially Ferney and St Genis – Cessy’s right of centre candidate Christophe Bouvier won the first round outright with 100% of votes.
Popular discontent has been growing under Hollande’s lackluster leadership, but the results also reflect frustration with the main left and right-wing parties for failing to implement effective reform. This paints a different picture from the socialist utopia imagined by Hollande during his 2012 campaign: 46.5% of votes go to the right wing, 37.7% to the left, 4.6% to the extreme right and 0.6% to the extreme left. In Paris, a socialist haven, it was UMP candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet who surged ahead of socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo for the mayor’s office. While repercussions remain unclear, the vote underlines the need for urgent change in a country where entrepreneurial initiative is hampered by high taxes and lack of imaginative government support.