Welcome to PROVENCE TODAY, a blog about life and politics in France.
In our search for the ideal place to retire, my husband and I settled in Aix-en-Provence in 1998 and have never stopped learning about this fascinating country that has become our permanent home. While this blog deals with the socio-political aspects of France, my book "Taking Root in Provence" focuses on the pleasures and paradoxes of daily life in sunny Provence.
Due to unusual circumstances (apartment renovation) PROVENCE
TODAY has been unable to produce its blog this month. The work will continue
for at least one more month, but there is a good chance that PT will be back
after mid April.
In the meantime, you might be interested in the results of
the Departmental Elections which took place on March 22 and 29. President
Hollande's Parti Socialiste (PS) took another severe beating and lost half of
its departments, including Hollande's own Corrèze and Manuel Valls's Essone,
both going to the right. The big winner was the center-right UMP opposition
party which together with its allies now controls two-thirds of all
departments. It is the fourth serious setback for the Socialist Party (in Municipal,
European, Senatorial and Departmental elections) since François Hollande was
elected president in 2012 and almost certainly kills any remaining chance at
re-election in 2017.
Absenteeism was high (50%) and expectations were low, given
the long list of Hollande's unfulfilled promises. The French press generally
blamed this defeat on the divisions within the Socialist party where in the past year
several ministers quit in protest against Hollande's policies and others were
fired. Another reason given was the lack of any concrete changes in what is
perceived by many as a misguided government program to combat
unemployment and stimulate the economy.
President Hollande has refused to comment except to say that
he will not change the course he is set on because he is convinced it is the
right one. "We are beginning to turn the corner", he said. He might
be right but the problem is that nobody believes him.
How can we close without mentioning that on March 10 the
highest court of Italy acquitted Silvio Berlusconi of charges of paying for sex
with an under-age prostitute and subsequent abuse of power in the famous bunga-bunga case. Having just completed
a community-service order following his tax fraud trial, he is now free to
return to politics and spearhead opposition against Prime Minister Mario
Renzi's reforms. Two other lawsuits are still pending against him:one in Milan for paying off witnesses in the bunga-bunga case and another for
political corruption in Naples.
We clearly have not heard the last yet of the 78-year-old
billionaire bad boy of Italian politics. Plus ça change ...
SEE YOU when the dust settles and the hammering stops - in a couple of weeks.