French election analysis: socialist self-delusion while centre-right unity eclipses Sarkozy

By and

The first round of voting in France's 'départementales' or county elections on Sunday threw up some important results. While it did not do as well as opinion polls had predicted, failing to become France's 'leading party', the far-right National Front still picked up around 25% of the vote. Meanwhile the ruling Socialist Party only attracted just over 21% support in an election in which it has traditionally performed well. A third noteworthy outcome was the victory of the alliance between the centre-right UDI and the right-wing UMP, led by Nicolas Sarkozy. Here Mediapart journalists examine the political situation ahead of next Sunday's second and decisive round. First Stéphane Alliès argues that leaders of the Socialist Party, and in particular the prime minister Manuel Valls, are deluding themselves in thinking that the party “held up” well in the vote. Then Ellen Salvi analyses the performance of the centre-right, where the victory of the UDI-UMP alliance has rather overshadowed any success on the part of former president Sarkozy.

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The socialists' vote only “held up well” in their imagination