While the wrangling between parliamentary groups and who holds which key offices in the National Assembly is still going on (as of 29 June), now seems like as good a time as any to look at the new electoral map of France, after the second round of the general elections on 18 June.
I mentioned in my last blog entry that the number of seats won by one party or another doesn’t necessarily map directly onto the Assembly. It was only ten days after the second round of the election that the seven separate groups were settled and produced this ‘camembert’, drawn up by the estimable Laurent de Boissieu. I have mentioned him before. His francepolitique.fr web site is a mine of information, but please, if you re-use his material, make sure you link direct to him and attribute your source. So, here’s his representation of the National Assembly. He also tweets, so follow him if you want to keep up to speed.
The column headed ‘b’ refers to associate members of each group, deputies who are not fully affiliated, but enjoy some of the privileges of membership such as group support for membership of the standing committees.
Now, of course, the camembert above is based on the results of the second round of the election. I have also written previously that the second round did not quite produce the landslide that some commentators feared or predicted. Some prognoses had La République en Marche (LRM, though Boissieu goes with REM - they're rubbish) winning as many as 450 seats, but in the end, the final number was far fewer. Still, the first round result gave every reason to think that LRM and MoDem would pretty much sweep the board. And French electoral analysts are not idiots. They compare the first round with previous voting trends, so 400+ was not out of the question, but the very high number of candidates made predictions for the second round tricky.
First up is the map of the electoral districts after the first round, from Le Monde on 13 June 2017. It shows the party in the lead after the first ballot. LRM and MoDem candidates are yellow, Les Républicains are the deeper shade of blue, their UDI allies the lighter. The Communists are the deep red, Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise the pillar-box shade, Socialists pink and the Front National grey-brown. For ‘Where’s Wally’ fans, can you spot the only ecologist? There is also a grey-blue for candidates under the unaligned ‘divers droite’ heading – just under the word ‘Morbihan’, in Brittany, for example.
The dark triangles indicate the seats where a duel with the FN was a possibility. You will also see that the FN’s strength is in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais area (now part of the Haut-de-France region, where they nearly took the regional assembly in 2015) and along the Mediterranean coast. There are also some outliers in northern Lorraine, in the east.
But that is not how it played out in the second round. An even higher rate of abstention in the second round (57% abstention) saw LRM fall back, although they still secured an absolute majority - 360 seats with MoDem. Still the map of the second round looks very different.
An electronic and interactive version of this map is available via lemonde.fr. If you click on an area you are interested in, it will zoom in and you can hover over each constituency to reveal the winners.
The map of the second round uses more or less the same colour scheme, although where MoDem candidates won the seat, they are in orange. The map is almost a default yellow/orange field, but it is worth noting and commenting on the areas where the other parties won their seats.
First, the Front National. It doesn't show up terribly well in this scanned version of the map, but the FN won a block of seats in the Pas-de-Calais and the Nord, as well as seats down on the Mediterranean littoral. three other constituencies bordering the one where Marine Le Pen won her seat (Pas-de-Calais 11) went FN, so there appears to be a contagion effect there. But if we look back to the map of the first round, the far-right party was ahead in far more and failed to overcome the challenges of the 'front républicain' where the other parties urged their voters to block the FN's path.
That didn't happen everywhere, however. Marie Sara, the LRM poster girl in the Gard, down in the south, lost her contest against the outgoing FN deputy Gilbert Collard in part due to the local LFI refusing to back her against Collard. Once again the FN has shown itself to be a party that can do quite well behind a charismatic leader in a presidential election, but is not good at tuning those scores into bums on parliamentary seats. To be honest, if I were in the higher echelons of the FN, I'd get rid of Marine Le Pen sooner rather than later...
The PS were decimated, with much of their old electorate either voting LRM or swinging behind LFI. There is still some life in the party in the south-west, but the other seats are far-flung and even the party's strength in Brittany has evaporated. Where Socialist candidates retained their seats, this was as much to do with their local reputations as anything else.
The radical left did better than it has done in recent elections. The Communists held seats in some of the old working-class areas of the Nord and Pas-de-Calais (despite the FN having moved in on their electorate in municipal and regional elections) and also took three seats in Seine-Maritime (in Dieppe, Le Havre and Rouen). They also took the first constituency in the Allier (Moulins) and the Puy-de-Dome (Clermont Ferrand), some seats in the Paris banlieue and down in Marseille.
The northern Paris banlieue, especially department 93, Seine-Saint-Denis, was very happy hunting ground for Mélenchon's La France Insoumise (LFI), which also won both seats in the Ariège, underlining the strength in France, still, of radical rural traditions. It's also worth noting that, in the Ariège, LRM was in first place after the first round, so votes transferred across to the far left, not the centre. Thus the department, which voted massively for Mélenchon on 23 April, remains on the left, as it has been since 1958. It's something of a paradox, though, that LFI took most of it's seats north of the Loire, whereas Mélenchon's electorate on 23 April was largely a southern phenomenon. Mélenchon himself, of course, was elected in Marseille, first seeing off the old Socialist fief-holder Patrick Mennucci, then LRM's local organiser Corinne Versini by a 60%/40% margin.
Given their first round performance, the right-wing Les Républicains fared better than they feared, although François Baroin's talk of winning a majority and entering into cohabitation with Macron turned out to be as well judged as anything Theresa May came out with. The party 'won' 113 seats, until 20 of those deputies went off to join 'Les constructifs', a group of pro-government right and centre-right deputies that includes all the UDI.
Still, what interests us here is where they won their seats. Alsace, southern Lorraine, Champagne and most of the Ardennes remained to the right, as did the Picardy coastline and also a line of constituencies down the east side of the Paris basin, down into the Orléanais and the mid-Loire valley. Fillon territory, in the near-west, remained blue, along with most of the Beauce, the France-Comté along the Swiss border, but not so much Haute-Savoie. And the southern Auvergne stayed blue too.
At this point, it is instructive to compare the results of the right this yearcompared to 2012, when Sarkozy had lost the presidential election, and just see where it has lost its influence. Below is a scan of the map of the legislative election results from Le Monde from 19 June 2012.
Where the right has been obliterated in 2017, compared to 2012 (and even more so if we were to look at 2007) is along the Côte-d'Azur and the Provençal interior, up the lower Rhône valley and in the constituencies around Lyon and St-Etienne, in the those to the east of Lyon, in the Ain and Haute-Savoie. But also, in the densely populated western Paris Basin, in what is called la grande couronne ouest, in the constituencies to the west of the capital and in Paris itself, where it has been almost wiped out by LRM. It also lost two seats in Corsica. And let's not forget that 2017 was the election they were supposed to win.
The thesis that 'la Macronie électorale' is built on the foundations of 'la Hollandie' does not look so ludicrous, but it is also built in part on the wreckage of 'la Sarkozie'.