On March 20th the French will be going to the polls in the Cantonal Elections , which decide who runs the départements. In all likelihood the UMP will take a pasting but it will be hard for the Left to excede its impressive victory in 2008 where it gained a total of 185 seats across the country and took control of 10 départements. Worth keeping an eye on are the départements of Jura, Côte-d’Or and Hautes-Alpes all of which the left only need one extra seat to take control.
The key question is what impact the results if any will have on the 2012 elections. Governments generally take a kicking in local elections all over the world but for the PS these elections are all about momentum. Can they keep Sarkozy and the UMP in a continued state of crisis? It already appears that the President has circled his wagons around the Élysée Palace so what more can he do should the UMP fail badly at the polls in a few weeks time?
The scores in the 2008 were:
1st Round – Socialists 26.7% (total Left 47.8%) UMP 23.6% (Total Right 40.7%)
2nd Round – Socialists 35.1% (Total Left 51.1%) UMP 26.8% (Total Right 44.2%)
Observers will also be looking out for the performance of the National Front, under its new leader, to see if they can advance from a lowly 4.85% last time round.