Monthly Reports

WGE – June 2012

This month’s Who Govern’s Europe? report looks at the key election in Greece, the results of which the eyes of all Eurozone leaders were fixed, and the French parliamentary elections, which follow the victory of François Hollande in presidential elections held last month.


New Socialist president, François Hollande, consolidated his party’s political authority by exceeding expectations in French parliamentary elections. It had been initially thought that the Socialist Party would be heavily reliant on smaller left-wing parties to secure its majority in the French parliament, but with 280 seats, from a total of 577, the party has 48% alone. When added with the seats of their closest partners (the Miscellaneous Left, the Greens and the Radical Party of the Left) the presidential majority has 331 seats – around 56% of the parliament. The Left Front party, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, will provide a supply and confidence arrangement, although Hollande can expect a majority without them. The Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) saw its seat share drop from 313 to 194.

Significant developments saw the National Front secure their first seats in the National Assembly since 1986. Their leader, Marine Le Pen, did not however win a seat after being defeated in Henin Beaumont by just 118, after which she has called for a recount. Her niece, Marion Le Pen, did win one of the seats for her party and, at the age of 22, becomes the youngest French MP in modern political history. Another individual contest that attracted significant attention was the defeat of the former Socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal in La Rochelle. Royal, who is also the former partner of Hollande and with whom she has four children, had been expected to be appointed as the new president of the National Assembly. In response to the defeat, Royal blamed Valérie Trierweiler, Hollande’s current girlfriend and French first lady, whom she accuses of undermining her political career, in particular by publically expressing support for the Socialist dissident candidate she was running against.

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Greece held its second election in as many months on Sunday, with the eyes of the world watching to see if the Greek electorate would continue to stand in the way of implementing the latest EU bailout package worth €130bn. In a welcome result for Eurozone leaders, New Democracy was able to top the poll again but this time with enough seats to put together a pro-EU bailout coalition with the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). New Democracy secured 129 seats (up by 21 seats since last month) in the 300 seat parliament which, when joined by the 33 seats of PASOK (down by 8 seats), secures 162 seats and significantly provides a majority with which to pass to key conditions attached to the EU bailout package.

In response to the results, Antonis Samaras, leader of New Democracy, called for a national coalition government in an attempt to attract the support of the main anti-austerity coalition, SYRIZA, and its charismatic leader Alexis Tsiparas. These attempts ultimately failed and Samaras has instead formed a coalition with PASOK and, crucially, the Democratic Left, which had campaigned against the bailout. In a special post, Oeshae Morgan analyses the results of the poll and its likely effects on the political situation in Europe.

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