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“I cannot prevent the French from being French.” - Charles de Gaulle
 
What is left of the left in Marseille?
By Gilles Ivaldi
04 April 2014 | Parties | 1376 words
Last Sunday, Marseille voters took away the PS’s last hopes of political redemption, giving the UMP mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin an absolute majority and the keys to the city council for another term, his fourth since 1995.

Election results

The results of the first round showed Patrick Mennucci’s socialists down to an unexpected 20.8 per cent of the vote, in third place behind Gaudin’s UMP at 37.6 per cent and Stéphane Ravier’s FN at 23.2 per cent. Contrast this with the first round of the 2012 legislatives, where the PS candidates had led the polls and totalled 26.3 per cent of the Marseille vote. The second round confirmed Mennucci’s descent into the electoral abyss: the UMP candidates topped the race with 42.6 per cent of the city’s vote as opposed to 31.1 per cent for the socialists and their allies, and 26.5 per cent for the FN. Gaudin only just missed the Grand Slam, winning 7 of the 8 sectors.

These results reflected only partially the actual balance of power in Marseille. In toto, the left polled 37.1 per cent of the first round vote and enjoyed a lead in a number of sectors, in particular in the 2nd and 7th. Unlike in 2008 ,however, when former local PS leader Jean-Noël Guérini had rallied a broad party coalition ranging from LO’s Trotskyites to the Greens, the left came highly fragmented with an average 4.6 lists in the 2014 municipals. Both the PRG and the FG ran individually, as did extreme left candidates, while Marseille’s ecologists were split in half between the PS and Pape Diouf’s independent coalition. With a critical 5.6 per cent of the city’s vote, the decision by the ex-Marseille football boss to simply ‘wait and see’ certainly pulled away votes most needed by the PS in the runoff.

In contrast, the right bloc proved more cohesive with an average 1.3 lists in the first round. Gaudin managed also to forge runoff alliances with dissident candidates such as Robert Assante in the 6th sector, while fishing for parties of the left in the second sector where Lisette Narducci’s left-wing Radicals (PRG) proved a catch of choice.

Party fragmentation in Marseille*

Sector

Left

Right

FN

Other

Total

1

5

1

1

2

9

2

6

1

1

3

11

3

4

2

1

1

8

4

3

1

1

0

5

5

4

1

1

1

7

6

3

2

1

0

6

7

5

1

1

0

7

8

7

1

1

0

9

Total

37

10

8

7

62

Average

4,6

1,3

1,0

0,9

* Number of lists in the first round of the 2014 municipals


In Marseille like elsewhere, the local socialists fell victims to the nationalisation of the municipal campaign and collateral damage from Hollande’s unpopularity. Mennucci had been Solferino’s odds-on candidate in the 2013 primary. In the lead up to the municipals, he became the official Ayrault government’s candidate, receiving official support from Ministers such as Aurélie Filippetti and Manuel Valls, and running Minister Marie-Arlette Carlotti in the third sector. The socialists’ municipal defeat in Marseille was mostly that of the local party apparatchiks: Mennucci, Carlotti, Eugène Caselli (president of the urban corporation) and Christophe Masse, while a less orthodox Samia Ghali survived the political shipwreck.

Locally, the PS’s electoral debacle also showed the continuation of party factionalism, the negative coattail effect of the deleterious primary campaign of 2013 and, first and foremost, the impact of the many political scandals involving local PS figures such as Sylvie Andrieux, Jean-Noël Guérini or Jean-David Ciot. One could see Guérini’s own hand in the second sector where his protégée, Lisette Narducci, defected to the UMP to defeat the official socialist candidate and gift a crucial win to Gaudin.

Mennucci failed to rally the anti-system vote on which he had planned to capitalise electorally, denouncing Gaudin’s political patriarchy, Guérini’s corruption and the long established model of municipal co-management between the UMP and FO trade union. Instead, political protest boosted FN success (up 2.3 percentage points from 2012), giving Ravier a significant share of the vote in the popular arrondissements of the North. The FN’s critique of the UMPS, both locally and nationally, clearly resonated with growing voter discontent over unemployment, taxes and endemic drug-related violence. More political corruption here too: Ravier won his mayorship in the 7th sector, the former home of Sylvie Andrieux, a socialist MP sentenced in 2013 for embezzling public funds


Forecast evaluation

Our seat forecast was accurate in five of the eight sectors (3, 4, 5, 6 and 8) where either the left or the right had a strong lead in the first round. The average forecast error was lower than 2 for the FN vote share and about 3 for the UMP. It was higher however for the PS (4.4).

Our model generally overestimated the level of support for the left, based on the hypothesis of a relative stability of the inter-block vote-share, but erroneously assuming an 80/20 left-right runoff split of Diouf’s first-round supporters. This waning of discipline républicaine was well in evidence in the first sector, for instance, where a more cohesive left bloc would have given Mennucci a critical lead in the three-way runoff against the UMP and the FN. Together, left-wing candidates polled no less than 54.9 per cent of the first-round vote in this sector, their best score in Marseille.

Despite higher voter turnout, the left lost a total of about 7,000 votes in the decisive round, representing on average 10 per cent of its first-round vote share. In contrast, the UMP candidates won an additional 16,000 votes and those of the FN around 9,000. The biggest socialist losses were concentrated in sector 2 where the total vote share for the left dropped by over a third while support for the UMP runner, Solange Biaggi, was more than doubled. This indicated that the vast majority of Narducci’s supporters followed their candidate’s lead and crossed the political Rubicon to the UMP, contradicting our initial assumption that a substantial proportion of those left-wing voters would remain loyal to their political camp. In the 6th sector, Robert Assante’s return to the UMP helped on the other hand consolidate the mainstream right’s score and contain the surge in support for the FN in the runoff.

Less expected, perhaps, was Stéphane Ravier’s victory in the 7th sector where the left had enjoyed a lead on the FN in the first round. Strong voter mobilisation was therefore key to stopping Ravier from winning the mayorship. An outspoken critic of racism in French society, Pape Diouf himself was running in this sector, precisely to contain the rise of the far right. With a drop in support of about 4 per cent, Sunday’s results showed very little mobilization on the left, casting doubt in particular on Diouf’s personal commitment to effectively campaign in the field against the FN.

In fact, support for Ravier’s lists grew by about a quarter in sectors 7 and 8, a rise concomitant in both cases with higher voter turnout (+7.6 and +6.1 percentage points, respectively), showing the FN’s capacity to attract larger pools of voters and possibly first-round abstainers in the decisive round.

 

Estimated second-round vote

Estim. Seats

Second round results

Seats

Sector

Left

Right

FN

Left

Right

FN

Left

Right

FN

Left

Right

FN

1

43.7

41.2

15.0

8

2

1

40.5

44.9

14.6

2

9

0

2

44.1

39.4

16.5

6

2

0

32.6

47.7

19.7

1

6

1

3

38.1

43.8

18.2

2

8

1

33.4

47.8

18.9

2

8

1

4

 

 

 

2

12

1

 

 

 

1

13

1

5

26.9

47.5

25.6

2

11

2

22.2

51.4

26.4

1

12

2

6

24.9

49.3

25.9

1

10

2

23.4

46.7

30.0

1

10

2

7

37.7

29.5

32.9

11

2

3

32.5

32.1

35.3

3

2

11

8

50.3

22.1

27.6

9

1

2

45.5

23.8

30.6

9

1

2

MARSEILLE

 

 

 

41

48

12

 

 

 

20

61

20



What future for Marseille’s socialists?

While Gaudin prepares for his fourth term, the PS is in tatters, threatening to fall apart. With the loss of his first-sector mayorship, Mennucci is lost in the electoral depths. He is now awaiting the PS decision to formally expel Guerini and has already warned that he would leave the party otherwise. Thanks to her victory in the 8th sector, Samia Ghali is in the best position to claim the future PS leadership in Marseille.

A consolidated FN will be a major force in opposition to Gaudin in the city council. Ravier’s sectoral mayorship comes with little effective power and financial resources, but it will provide a power-base for future electoral success in Marseille. The 2014 municipals have seen Marseille shifting further to the right, moving away from its socialist heritage of Gaston Defferre’s era. The city now shows an even greater resemblance to the second regional capital, Nice, where Christian Estrosi won an absolute majority for the UMP in a context marked by the rise of the FN and the electoral debacle of the local socialists. The next challenge for the PS will come in the 2016 regional elections where the right could strengthen political dominance by taking the regional council.

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Welcome to '500Signatures', for analysis and commentary on French politics and elections

This blog is produced by Jocelyn Evans (University of Leeds) and Gilles Ivaldi (University of Nice)

 
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jocelyn Evans [@JocelynAJEvans] is Professor of Politics at the University of Leeds

Gilles Ivaldi is a CNRS researcher in political science based at the University of Nice

 
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CATEGORY
 
DATA

- Forecasting the FN vote in Second-Order elections (updated 12 May 2014)

- Forecasting the FN vote in Second-Order elections (Jan. 2014)

- Polling scores by polling type (CATI v CAWI) (updated 20 April 2012)

- Estimating Marine Le Pen's vote in the 2012 presidentials: an experiment (November 2011)

- Data for the 2011 expert forecast survey (in CSV file)

 

 


 
Last modified on Monday 25 April 2016
Copyright Gilles Ivaldi - @2012-2014