Julia Gillard was trying to console herself the other day when greeted by yet another dismal opinion poll with a belief that left of centre parties were doing it tough everywhere. It seemed a bit like someone clutching at a straw given that in Denmark last month the incumbent centre-right coalition led by the Liberal Party lost power to a centre-left coalition led by the Social Democrats. At best you could say that the outlook for the left is mixed.

In Spain the socialist led governing coalition looks like losing office in next month’s election — The Crikey Election Indicator gives them but a 4% chance of hanging on — but in France the Parti Socaliste is the early favourite to oust Nicolas Sarkozy from the presidency.

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On Sunday the French voted in a primary  to determine the Socialist presidential challenger. The opinion polls are pointing to life-long Socialist Francois Hollande, 57,  defeating Martine Aubry, 61, and Ségolène Royal, 58, as well as three other male candidates.

The BBC reports that Sarkozy’s current popularity ratings are so low that the right is panic-stricken. And its loss of control of the Senate in elections last week — a body that the conservatives in France have controlled since the Fifth Republic came into being in 1958 — was “more than a defeat — a trauma,” Hollande concluded. The Senate, France’s second parliamentary chamber, is more representative of the small towns and provincial cities in rural France. As a rule, it has been a bastion of conservatism, a place where a more nostalgic version of France, with all of its clichés, lives on. The Senate vote showed that, if traditionally conservative rural areas are abandoning Sarkozy, he could be in deep trouble.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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