The Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), led by President Nicolas Sarkozy, has won a majority of seats after the second round of legislative elections in France. The party gained 318 out of 577 seats in the Assemblée Nationale, some way down on predictions, while the Socialists (PS) fared better than expected, and gained 185 seats, an improvement on the 149 they won in 2002. Ségolène Royal, the defeated PS candidate in the presidential election, is now expected to become leader of the party.
The coalition partners of the UMP, the New Centre (CN), won 20 seats, while the centrist Union for French Democracy (UDF) led by former presidential candidate, François Bayrou, did badly, obtaining only three seats; the National Front (FN) won none. The Communist Party (PCF) won 19, while the Greens (Verts) gained one seat, ending up with four.
M. Sarkozy has dissolved the government, and his Prime Minister François Fillon is expected to appoint a new cabinet shortly. Of the outgoing ministers, Alain Juppé, who was Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development, is unlikely to be reappointed, as he lost his parliamentary seat.
The UMP-led government is now likely to embark on a range of reforms; Sarkozy has promised to give universities more autonomy, impose tougher sentences on repeat offenders, tighten immigration, make labour laws more flexible and reduce personal taxation. However, an increase in VAT is also expected, to finance the cost of healthcare.
19 June 2007