Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 26 April 2007

France: Record turnout sees Royal and Sarkozy go through to second round

THE FIRST round of the French presidential elections last Sunday left capitalist commentators in an almost jubilant mood. A record turnout of 84% produced two clear winners for the second round in two weeks time. The right wing candidate of the UMP (union for a popular movement) Nicolas Sarkozy got 31.2% of the votes, ahead of the candidate for the ex-social democratic Socialist Party (PS) Ségolène Royal with 25.8% of the vote.

Karl Debbaut, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)

"The only surprise", said one commentator in the French media, "is that this election produced no surprises". In one sense he is right; the pollsters' predictions were accurate, although they overestimated the support for the far-right candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

In 2002, Le Pen plunged the French establishment into a political crisis by reaching the second round with 16.9%, beating the PS candidate Jospin into third place. That someone who describes the Nazi concentration camps as "a detail in history" could get this result sent shockwaves throughout Europe.

But on Sunday, Le Pen's Front National lost 1 million votes in comparison with 2002.

However, this does not mean that the results reflect a "vote for democracy and a vote for moderation" as is claimed by the press in Europe.

Whilst one element in the high turnout (and also the squeezing of the vote of the radical left) was the general fear of a repetition of 2002, it is not the only element. The centre-right candidate Sarkozy, with neo-liberal policies reminiscent of 'Thatcherism', mobilised the right-wing vote and layers of the middle class and working class who think that France needs a 'hard man' to push through change.

In the last days of the campaign Sarkozy tried to win over a layer of workers to accept longer working hours and less social protection to stop an economic implosion. The idea being that the only defence against globalisation and international capitalism is to adapt oneself to the demands of the multinationals and make sacrifices in return for economic growth. This would lead to a further decline in workers' living standards.

The late surge for Ségolène Royal in the vote is largely explained by a strong anti-Sarkozy and anti-Le Pen mood rather than by genuine enthusiasm for her programme. The youth and immigrant vote in the poor urban areas or "banlieues" went overwhelmingly to Ségolène Royal, even though many would undoubtedly have preferred to vote for more radical left-wing candidates.

Tactical voting

Up to the day of voting over 30% of the electorate had not made up its mind about who to vote for. This wavering, especially amongst women, youth and poor, represented the lack of any real alternative for the working class and people weighing up if they could afford to vote for the radical left or if they should vote "tactically" against Sarkozy or Le Pen.

Ségolène Royal spoke of the need to change France and follow the Swedish political model in which "both unions and business would be prepared to make sacrifices if they were assured of medium and long term gains". Sweden's social democratic governments in the 1990s received high praise from the European Commission because they privatised more, deregulated more and made more cuts in social provisions that any other European country!

The policies of Royal would be a continuation of the 1997-2002 'gauche plurielle' government ('plural left' of the PS, Communists and Greens) who privatised more than the right-wing government before it.

Whilst the votes of the PCF (French Communist Party) and LO (a Trotskyist formation - 'workers' struggle') got squeezed by the anti-Sarkozy vote and their own lack of appeal, Olivier Besancenot of the LCR (Revolutionary Communist League, another Trotskyist party) received around 1.5 million votes (4.11%), some 280,000 votes more than in 2002.


The second round will inevitably be turned into a national referendum on Nicolas Sarkozy. While we would understand people voting against Sarkozy and for Royal, this is not going to stop anti-working class policies being implemented.

What is needed is to prepare to organise the struggle against these policies in the street and in the factories. This involves building a mass fighting party on an anti-capitalist and genuine socialist programme as an alternative to the mainstream parties.

Unlike LO, the LCR has made some declarations about this subject but has unfortunately, like in the past, not taken any practical steps. In 2002 the combined vote of LO and the LCR surpassed 9% and a real opportunity to build a new force then was missed.

A new party cannot simply be built from above. The 1 May demonstrations could be a starting point in building action and struggle committees and start the process of building a new formation.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 26 April 2007:

Blair's legacy... war, cuts & privatisation

Civil servants' union May Day strike

Free Arrested activists now

Socialist Students

Join the campaign to defeat fees

No victimisation - support Deeside college lecturers

Campaign to Defeat Fees National Meeting

Socialist Party election analysis

New Labour - lowest poll ratings since 1983

Come to the Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference

Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference

Support for Labour falling in Scotland

Campaigning for socialist ideas in South Wales

Huddersfield: Fighting against NHS cuts and closures

Coventry socialists fight Post Office closure

Southampton: Save our Services!

Brighton: Stop privatisation

Merseyside: Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Bootle has a real socialist alternative

Manchester Wythenshawe: NHS cuts threaten lives

Donate to fund a socialist alternative

Socialist solidarity on May Day

International socialist news and analysis

Socialist wins court battle in Kazakhstan

France: Record turnout sees Royal and Sarkozy go through to second round

Yeltsin's real record - 'wild capitalism' in Russia

US mass shooting horror

Nigerian elections - a dangerous farce

Socialist Party workplace news

Support the Sunvic strikers

UNISON Delegates demand action


Home   |   The Socialist 26 April 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: France in May 1968

triangleFrance: rallies in support of oppressed Kurdish people

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleFrench Labour reform protests

triangleFrench elections: Macron's win


triangle4,800 young people hurt after officers 'restrain' them

triangleProfiteering NHS counter-fraud firm in alleged case of... fraud

triangle900 carers quit a day - nationalise social care now

triangleNHS SOS round-up

Nicolas Sarkozy:

triangleFrance: Burkini ban fuels division

triangleFrance: millions strike against Sarkozy's policies

triangleFrance: Workers and youth resist Sarkozy's attacks





Brazil: Psol councillor Marielle Franco murdered



US school shootings: student walkouts challenge establishment



West Virginia teachers' strike victory



Spain: millions on streets against sexism and capitalist oppression



Italian elections create huge political shake-up



Japan - toxic legacy of the Fukushima disaster



Syria: No ceasefire for 'hell on earth' eastern Goutha



United States: young people demand change after latest mass shooting



Russia: Ali Feruz, journalist and human rights activist, freed from jail


South Africa

South Africa: Ramaphosa is a safe pair of hands for capitalism



France: rallies in support of oppressed Kurdish people



Big political strike against Finnish government's attack on unemployed



Brazil: Lula conviction confirmed


South Africa

Cape Town drought



May's silence is a green light for Chinese repression

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018