French municipal elections, 2008
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The French municipal elections of 2008 were held on 9 March in that year (with a second round of voting taking place, where necessary, one week later on 16 March) to elect the municipal councils of France's 36,782 communes. The first task of each newly constituted municipal council was to elect a mayor for that commune.
Municipal councillors, and the mayors they elect, ordinarily serve a term of six years. However those who took office following the last municipal elections, held on 11 and 18 March 2001, had their terms extended to seven years by an Act of the French parliament designed to avoid an overloading of the electoral calendar in 2007.
The left gained back grounds lost in 2001 and in previous elections and sent a message of warning to President Nicolas Sarkozy, in power since 2007. The PS gained cities like Toulouse, Strasbourg, Amiens, Saint-Étienne and Reims. The left also held on easily to most of its cities, including Paris and Lyon. The close election in Marseille, however, was won by the UMP incumbent. The right did poorly but held on to some of its cities like Bordeaux, Le Havre, Nice, Toulon or Aix-en-Provence. Among right-wing gains were the cities of Chaumont, Le-Puy-en-Velay, and Calais (ending 37 years of Communist control).
François Bayrou's centrist MoDem did poorly, although MoDem incumbents generally won. However, Bayrou himself was defeated (by the PS) in his hometown of Pau. Between the two rounds the MoDem followed three strategies- maintain its list in the runoffs, if qualified; ally with the right (as in Toulouse); or ally with the left (as in Marseille).
The far-right FN did extremely poorly, winning only 0.93% nationwide and qualifying for the runoff in only 7 cities with 30,000+ population (40 in 2001, 105 in 1995).
The PCF held most of its ground in its Seine-Saint-Denis strongholds (despite most incumbents facing Socialist candidates) but also in other PCF cities (Nanterre, Arles). It gained Dieppe and Vierzon while losing Calais (to UMP) and Aubervilliers (to PS).
The popular Socialist incumbent Bertrand Delanoë was very easily re-elected. Françoise de Panafieu represented the centre-right UMP as the right tried, in vain, to regain the capital. Among high-profile candidates on her lists is the Justice Minister Rachida Dati, UMP elected in the capital's VIIe arrondissement.
In Bordeaux, the incumbent Mayor and former Prime Minister Alain Juppé, defeated in the 2007 parliamentary election, stood for re-election. The Socialist candidate was Aquitaine President Alain Rousset. The centrist MoDem, led by François Bayrou, announced its support for Juppé. Juppé was re-elected by the first round with over 56% of votes cast, even improving over 2001.
|Municipal Election 2008: Bordeaux|
|Revolutionary Communist League||Emmanuel Bichindaritz||2,484||3.05|
|Chemin du bon sens||Marc Vanhove||1,201||1.48|
|Parti Indépendant pour la Culture||S. Boudy||77||0.09|
In 2001, the Socialist Gérard Collomb won the country's second largest city from the UDF. Lyon had been considered a stronghold for the centrist UDF in previous years. In 2008, former UMP Transportation Minister Dominique Perben tried to win back the city. Surprisingly, the two highly presumed candidates for the centrist MoDem and the far-right National Front, Azouz Begag and Bruno Gollnisch respectively both announced their intentions not to stand.
In February, after a fight with MoDem leader François Bayrou, the MoDem list leader integrated the UMP list, but Bayrou found another list leader. The MoDem list was also shaken after one of its list was rejected because one of its candidates was also on a FN list.
With his sky-high popularity, Collomb was re-elected by the first round and Perben himself was defeated in his sector.
In the country's third largest city, Jean-Claude Gaudin of the UMP faced Socialist Senator Jean-Noël Guérini, FN candidate Stéphane Ravier, and MoDem MEP Jean-Luc Bennahmias. The race was very close and both sides had a chance to win, but Gaudin was re-elected narrowly.
The right was divided in this generally right-wing city, with incumbent mayor Jacques Peyrat staging a dissident candidacy against UMP candidate Christian Estrosi. Estrosi won 38% to Peyrat's 23%. However, the PS candidate Patrick Allemand, with his 22%, also qualified for a three-way runoff.
|Municipal Election 2008: Nice|
|Miscellaneous right||Jacques Peyrat*||28,161||23.14|
|Miscellaneous left||Patrick Mottard||7,887||6.48|
|Revolutionary Communist League||Bruno Della Sudda||2,413||1.98|
|Miscellaneous right||Jacques Peyrat*||31,952||25.50|
|UMP gain from Miscellaneous right||Swing|
In this Socialist city, longtime mayor Edmond Hervé (since 1977) did not lead the PS list in this election, he was replaced by Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande mayor Daniel Delaveau, who was easily elected. The MoDem candidate, with her 10%, also won a place in the runoff.
|Municipal Election 2008: Rennes|
|The Greens||Nicole Kiil-Nielsen||5,841||8.93|
|Workers' Party||Carine Weber||661||1.01|
Jean-Luc Moudenc of the UMP faced a very tough race against the left, which swept the city in the Presidential and Legislative elections held in 2007. Contrary to polls, Moudenc came out on top of the first round with 42% to the PS's 39%. Following the first round, he merged his lists with the MoDem. However, he lost to Pierre Cohen, the PS candidate.
|Municipal Election 2008: Toulouse|
|Miscellaneous left||François Simon||7,293||5.42|
|Revolutionary Communist League||Myriam Martin||6,817||5.07|
|PS gain from UMP||Swing|
Socialist incumbent Martine Aubry ran for re-election, with 6 candidates opposing her. The Greens, although they qualified for the runoff, preferred to merge with Aubry's PS lists, as did the MoDem, which chose to merge with the Left list in Lille, and for the Right one in other cities.
|Municipal Election 2008: Lille|
|The Greens||Eric Quiquet||6,848||11.58|
|Revolutionary Communist League||Jan Pauwels||2,337||3.95|
|Miscellaneous left||Etienne Forest||642||1.09|
The capital of Alsace, Strasbourg was gained by the right from the left in 2001. However, in 2008, the UMP incumbent Fabienne Keller could be potentially defeated by the PS's Roland Ries. A poll showed her defeated 53–47 in the runoff.
|Municipal Election 2008: Strasbourg|
|The Greens||Alain Jund||4,752||6.37|
|Alsace d'Abord||Robert Spieler||1,616||2.17|
|Revolutionary Communist League||Marcel Wolff||1,394||1.87|
|Miscellaneous left||Jamal Boussif||540||0.72|
|PS gain from UMP||Swing|
For the first time ever, the three main parties (center-right UMP, centrist MoDem, and center-left PS) put on top of a 50-odd lists candidates with a non-European ethnic background ("candidats de la diversité"), most either from North Africa, a few from the French Caribbean departments or sub-Saharan Africa, most against incumbent mayors from the opposite party, thus with lower chances to succeed.
There were only seven incumbent mayors in Metropolitan France with non-European roots, all in rural communes with less than 5,000 inhabitants where the percentage of foreign stock population is close to nil:
- Auguste Senghor (a nephew of Léopold Sedar Senghor), mayor of Le May-sur-Èvre (Maine-et-Loire, 3,891 inhabitants) since 1989, was elected mayor of Saint-Briac (Ille et Vilaine, 2,054 inhabitants) where the incumbent mayor Brice Lalonde was no longer a candidate
- Xavier Cadoret, born in Morocco as Karim Kadouri, PS mayor of Saint-Gérand-le-Puy (Allier, 1,029 inhabitants) since the death of the previous mayor in 1991, reelected in 1995 and 2001
- Éric Besson, born in Morocco from a Lebanese mother, since 1995 mayor (formerly PS) of Donzère (Drôme, 4,700 inhabitants)
- Mahfoud Aomar (Algerian parents), nonpartisan mayor of Guerchy (Yonne, 601 inhabitants) since 2001
- Kaddour Derrar, divers gauche mayor of Condette (Pas-de-Calais, 2,675 inhabitants) since 2001, when the former mayor endorsed him as his successor
- Pierre Pluton (Afro-Caribbean), UMP mayor of Évry-Grégy-sur-Yerre (Seine-et-Marne, 2,060 inhabitants) since 2001
- Jean-Claude Gautry (Afro-Caribbean), mayor of Paroy (Seine-et-Marne, 198 inhabitants) since 2001
The six who were again candidates in their commune were reelected in the first round with results varying from 60% to 88% of the votes, and Auguste Senghor, candidate in another commune far away from the previous one, was the only candidate elected there in the first round with 52% of the votes.
Two more small municipal councils elected mayors with non-European roots: Volvic (Puy-de-Dôme, 4,202 inhabitants) elected the Harki activist Mohand Hamoumou (miscellaneous right) and Morey (Saône-et-Loire, 184 inhabitants), Kader Atteye, whose parents came from Djibouti, but 5 councillors out of 11 resigned in protest over the election of a black mayor
Only one candidat de la diversité heading a list in a town of more than 10,000 inhabitants was elected in the first round: Eddie Aït, already a regional councillor and departmental leader for the Left Radical Party (centre-left) beat the incumbent UMP mayor of Carrières-sous-Poissy (Yvelines, 13,472 inhabitants) with 62.4% of the votes and was elected as mayor. Another was elected mayor after the second round, Philippe N'Guyen Tahnn (PS) in Vernon (Eure, 23,700 inhabitants)
The left-wing list headed by Samia Ghali (PS vice-president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regional council) won in the first round in the VIIIth secteur (borough) of Marseilles (92,100 inhabitants) with 52.30%. Had the left won in Marseilles, she had been promised the first adjunct-mayorship, finally she was elected mayor of this secteur, succeeding the incumbent Communist mayor.
The UMP list headed by Justice minister Rachida Dati got 49.50% in the first round in the VIIe arrondissement of Paris (55,700 inhabitants). She was elected maire d'arrondissement after the second round.
|City||Population (1999)||Incumbent||Elected 2008|
|Paris||2 125 246||Bertrand Delanoë|
|Marseille||798 430||Jean-Claude Gaudin|
|Lyon||445 452||Gérard Collomb|
|Toulouse||390 350||Jean-Luc Moudenc||Pierre Cohen|
|Nice||342 738||Jacques Peyrat||Christian Estrosi|
|Nantes||270 251||Jean-Marc Ayrault|
|Strasbourg||264 115||Fabienne Keller||Roland Ries|
|Montpellier||225 392||Hélène Mandroux-Colas|
|Bordeaux||215 363||Alain Juppé|
|Lille||212 597||Martine Aubry|
|Rennes||206 229||Edmond Hervé||Daniel Delaveau|
|Le Havre||190 905||Antoine Rufenacht|
|Reims||187 206||Jean-Louis Schneiter||Adeline Hazan|
|Saint-Étienne||180 210||Michel Thiollière||Maurice Vincent|
|Toulon||160 639||Hubert Falco|
|Grenoble||153 317||Michel Destot|
|Angers||151 279||Jean-Claude Antonini|
|Brest||149 634||François Cuillandre|
|Le Mans||146 105||Jean-Claude Boulard|
|Clermont-Ferrand||137 140||Serge Godard|
|Amiens||135 510||Gilles de Robien||Gilles Demailly|
|Aix-en-Provence||134 222||Maryse Joissains-Masini|
|Limoges||137 140||Alain Rodet|
|Nîmes||133 424||Jean-Paul Fournier|
|Tours||132 820||Jean Germain|
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Notes and references
- Act number 2005-1563 of the 15 December 2005 (in French)
- Four other rounds of voting were already due to be held in that year: two rounds of the presidential election in April/May and two rounds of the legislative elections scheduled for June 2007
- Sciolino, Elaine (13 January 2008). "French Cabinet Position Not Enough? Then Try Mayor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- Le climat politique à Strasbourg
- Élections municipales françaises de 2008 – Diversité
- Candidats d'origine non-européenne aux élections municipales et cantonales de mars 2008 en métropole
- "Auguste Senghor se présente à Saint-Briac-sur-Mer". Le Nouvel Observateur. France. 15 January 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- Saint-Briac. De Lalonde à Senghor, Le Télégramme, 18 March 2008
- Ghislaine Buffard (26 February 1997). "Ils voient en moi un maire, pas un étranger" (in French). Aujourd'hui en France. Retrieved 7 January 2008.
- Alain Bollery, La tristesse d'un maire noir, Le Parisien, 31 March 2008
- Alexis De La Fontaine, La fronde des conseillers municipaux contre un maire noir, RTL, 31 March 2008
- New York Times article, 13 January 2008
- CityMayors.com elections page
- French municipal elections explained