I'm not usually stirred to comment on political matters but the first round of voting in the 'Départmentales' seems to have put 'le chat parmi les pigeons'. Ok it may only be the first round but the signs are clear. The UMP led by Sarko has swept aside the Socialists led by PM Valls and Hollande and dumped them into third place with Marine le Pen and her Front National party claiming second place, reinforcing the increasing popularity of the new top two over the PS after last years Municipale elections.
Mme le Pen was aiming for the magical and psychological barrier of 30% of the vote which would have made her lot the top team though at 25% she must be pretty pleased with life despite political commentator's efforts to wind her up and admit that her party had done less well than she had anticipated. The FN has seen big changes since Marine took over from her dad Jean-Marie with the party manifesto doing it's best to distance itself from the old racist ticket for a more 'localised' train of ideas with the community and welfare of the country as a whole on the agenda. Whatever she has done seems to have done the trick, well so far anyway.
The electorate is changing, as is the make-up of the parties with a dramatic 10% fall in the average age of candidate fom 61 years four years ago to 51 for this present campaign. Seems like the 'old guard' of pensioners are making way for the younger folk. Indeed, 17 of the candidates are 18 which is either encouraging or dangerous, depending on ones point of view ?
The first round saw sweeping changes in the north with many potential banana skins coming up next weekend for the second round of voting. At least 15 fairly solid PS seats are under serious threat from Sarko and/or Marine including Holland's homeland stronghold of the Corrèze. Hence the rallying call from Valls to keep the FN out at all costs. Indeed both the PS and UMP are strongly unging the new found floating voters to vote for anyone or abstain rather than vote for the National Front.
How did I vote ? Well, I didn't as I arrived at the polling station five minutes after the station closed ...............ZUT !