Jewish World Review May 8, 2007 / 20 Iyar, 5767
How Sarkozy won France: Anatomy of a political upset
By Michael Barone
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected president of France by a 53 to 47 percent margin over Segolénè Royal. Here are the department-by-department results (just double-click on the map to get the election figures). To analyze these figures, I aggregated the department results by the following official regions. Here are the total votes for Sarkozy and Royal and the total vote, followed by the percentage for Sarkozy (you can get the percentage for Royal by subtracting this from 100). Contrary to my usual practice, I have used tenths of a percentage, because so many of these percentages come at or near .5 percent. I've used plus or minus signs to indicate how you should round off the .5s if you want to. Then I've indicated the popular vote margin for (or, with a minus sign, against) Sarkozy in each region.
One thing that strikes me here is that Sarkozy is carrying some regions by big margins (big Provence and little Corsica, always right-wing Alsace), while Royal is not carrying any region by a comparable percentage. Her biggest percentages come in the tiny region of Limousin (bigger only than Corsica) and in the overseas vote (where her margin is entirely due to a big vote in the Indian Ocean island of Reunion). Scarcely la France profonde. Or, more to the point, la France industrielle.
Compare this with the overwhelming percentage showings for Tony Blair's New Labour party in the industrial north of England. Yes, it's a different election system, and the results are not quite commensurate. But in County Durham, where Blair's constituency of Sedgfield is located, the results from the 2001 elections (in which Labour was down from 1997; I don't have 2005 at hand, but they weren't much different) were, in popular votes, 61 percent for Labour and 23 percent for Conservatives, a popular vote margin of 191,648 out of 505,194 votes cast. You won't see anything like that in the table above. Not in the industrial Nord-Pas de Calais, where Royal got only 49.7 percent of the vote and actually lost to Sarkozy. Not anywhere.
Maybe there's a lesson here. Blair's New Labour by 2001 stood for economic growth. The industrial heartlands, though they may have wanted more in the way of welfare protections and government subventions, responded handsomely. Royal's Socialism in 2007 stood for more taxes and more government spending. The industrial belt did not respond. Seine-St. Denis, the immigrant-packed department just north of Paris (you pass through it on your way from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris) voted only 56 to 44 percent for Royal. That's a long way from 61 to 23 percent (which if there were in the British system a runoff would have been a significantly bigger margin for Labour).
Here's another way of looking at it. The French have been divided, pretty evenly, between left and right, going back to the 19th century. The big division then was between a secular left embodied in the small town by the local state schoolmaster and the religious right embodied in the small town by the local Catholic priest. The French typically sent their sons to the state school, their daughters to the Catholic school. The secular left tended to win most of the time in the Third Republic from 1870 to 1940, when only men could vote; the regime was one set up for the convenience of men, with the Church disfavored or even declared illegal (you didn't have to accompany your wife or daughters to church on Sunday), with prostitution legalized and public pissoirs scattered generously around cities and towns. When women got the vote after World War II, French politics shifted to the right. But the regional differences persisted (the left impulse of the department of Nievre, for example, which Francois Mitterrand made his local base). And most of the country was pretty close to evenly divided, just as it was and is pretty evenly divided between men and women. (Actually, there was a preponderance of women after World War I, since so many men were killed in the war, but it didn't matter, because women couldn't vote.) The historic patterns of left and right support show up, mostly, in this map.
But not all of France is close to evenly divided.
Take a look at the percentages for Sarkozy in the departments across France. What you see is that most were pretty evenly divided, with most registering somewhere between 45 and 55 percent for Sarkozy. What's significant, then, is where one candidate or another runs ahead of this percentage. And there there is a huge imbalance.
Where does Royal run ahead of 55 percent? By my count, in only five departments. In Seine-St. Denis, as mentioned. But Sarkozy wins 52 percent in metro Paris (Île-de-France). In Côtes d'Amor in Brittany. In Haute Vienne in Limousinpretty petites patates. In Hautes-Pyrenees and Ariege in the deep south.
Sarkozy, in contrast, runs over 55 percent in 34 departments. In Yvelines and Hauts-de-Seines, the affluent suburbs west of Paris, and Seine-et-Marne, east of Paris. In all but one of the eight departments in a ring around the Île-de-France regionthe exurbs as we might say. In Orne in rural Normandy, in three of four departments in Champagne, in two of four in Lorraine, two of four in Burgundy, two of four in Franche Comte and, with nearly two thirds, in the two departments in Alsace. Throw in another tiny couple of departments in central France (Cantal and Lozere), hardly worth the looking at, and then you come to what's very much looking at: the departments containing Lyon and Marseille, three departments right around Geneva, Switzerland, Pyrenees-Orientale down on the Spanish Mediterranean border, and then Provence and the Riviera: Gard east of the Rhone and Vaucluse on the west, and then, east of Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, Var, where Sarkozy got 66 percent of the vote and Alpes-Maritimes, where he got 68 percent. Add in the two Corsica departments and you have 34.
What do these places have in common? I'm not sure I entirely know. But, No. 1, most of them are pretty affluentand probably don't like being taxed to death. No. 2, some at least have had high immigration and don't cotton to the idea that Muslim immigrants should be subsidized by taxpayers so that they have time to plan and carry out car-burnings and Jew-beatings and train-bombings. Sarkozy is being treated in fashionable leftist quarters as some kind of fascist because he doesn't believe these things are desirable and that the people who do them are scum (racaille). Most French voters, it seems, happily, know better. Vive la France.
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