Press takes stock of Sarkozy's 'blue wave'

11th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 11, 2007 (AFP) - French newspapers on Monday acknowledged Nicolas Sarkozy's triumph in the first round of parliamentary elections, some saying it heralds reform, others warning of an over-concentration of powers in the president's hands.

PARIS, June 11, 2007 (AFP) - French newspapers on Monday acknowledged Nicolas Sarkozy's triumph in the first round of parliamentary elections, some saying it heralds reform, others warning of an over-concentration of powers in the president's hands.

In a leading article entitled "A new France takes shape," the pro-Sarkozy daily Le Figaro said the president's Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party "has been given a clear mandate to do what it has promised.... One can now see it with near-certainty: the French want change and they want it fast."

The UMP won 45.5 percent in the first round of voting Sunday for a new National Assembly, compared with 39 percent for the opposition Socialists. If the trend continues in next Sunday's second round, the UMP will have a landslide majority of possibly up to 501 seats in the 577-member lower chamber.

"It's not so much a blue wave as a blue tsunami," said the popular daily Le Parisien.

"After a gap of five weeks, the public have confirmed their presidential vote. They have shown no interest in power-sharing between left and right. On the contrary, they have given Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon a large majority to put their promises into action," it said.

The left-wing Liberation urged voters to turn out in greater numbers for the second round in order to limit the extent of the UMP's triumph. In the first round a record 39.5 percent of voters abstained.

"Nicolas Sarkozy has the grand slam just a vote away. If next Sunday the electorate confirms yesterday's clear choice, he will have... brought together all the powers of the Republic in his hands," Liberation warned.

The Communist L'Humanite said that a "cloak of lead" was about to descend on the National Assembly, with the UMP's expected landslide.

"It is exactly what Nicolas Sarkozy wanted in order to have his hands totally free.... We risk heading for single party rule in parliament unless voters make more of an effort to stop it next Sunday," it said.

The financial daily Les Echos compared Sarkozy's expected parliamentary triumph with the huge majority won by President Charles de Gaulle in the aftermath of the events of May 1968.

"The great strength of the vote is the incredible dynamic that it gives Nicolas Sarkozy... not just to keep attacking the status quo, but to make sure all his reforms -- even the most difficult -- are put into effect," it said.

But Les Echos warned that the size of Sarkozy's expected majority raises an awkward question: where is the opposition to come from, if the only counterweight in parliament is an enfeebled Socialist Party?

"The country is entering a new era -- one dominated by a direct and passionate relationship between the president and the people. We must tread carefully," it said.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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