France’s Socialist Party won a majority in the 17 June parliamentary elections, its best result since 1981.
But the Socialists are already coming under pressure from financial circles to reverse or delay some of their spending commitments.
The election results make this more likely since the Socialists and their allies will not need the support of radical left MPs to pass legislation.
On the right, a number of prominent figures in former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP lost their seats. The party is in disarray and divided over what attitude to take towards the fascist Front National (FN).
FN leader Marine Le Pen was narrowly defeated by the Socialist candidate in the town of Henin Beaumont.
But the party won two seats, its best return since 1986—one of them being Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, granddaughter of FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen. A third far right MP, Jacques Bompard, was also elected.
The Front de Gauche—an alliance of former Socialists, radical left activists and the Communist Party—won more votes than the Communist Party did in the last election. But it took fewer seats. This is because the French electoral system favours parties that make electoral alliances.
“Our autonomy has cost us dear,” said Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon. But he pledged the Front de Gauche would become “the spokespeople for the expectations of the social movement—without concession or naivety or impatience”.
Recent elections have shown a deepening political polarisation in France. The record abstention rate of 44 percent indicates that people do not feel represented by the major parties. Battles over austerity in the weeks and months to come are likely to intensify this process.