Election Night Soap Opera

1:30 AM 18 June in Jerusalem

What did I say last month? I predicted that François Hollande and Ségolène Royal would separate politically and romantically. The political separation didn't need to be announced, it was obvious from the moment that she lost the presidential election. Ms. Royal chose to announce their romantic separation Sunday night, just in time to eclipse the results of the legislative elections. She told the father of her four children to pack his suitcases, move out, and enjoy the new love life that has been the subject of subliminal gossip throughout the campaign. There's a read-all-about-it book on the market.

It's hard to concentrate on all those circumscriptions from Jerusalem, when heartbreaking news is on the front page of every paper. I'm leading a double life myself, giving talks in Israel while covering the elections in France.

But here goes:

Triumph of democracy-Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP did not swallow the legislature whole and paint it blue. There was, contrary to my predictions, a stirring of life on the left. Our new president will not have dictatorial powers, the Socialist party is not laminated, the Communists are still breathing, and the great François Bayrou has 3 count them 3 buddies in the new legislature, for a total of 4 MoDems.

Here's the way the pie is divided:

UMP and affiliated 345 seats

PS and affiliated 206

Communists 18

MoDem 4

Greens 4

Far from losing ten seats as I carelessly envisaged, the PS and affiliated gained 56 (if my calculations are correct). So you expect me to say that the PS was gracious, noble, and fair play. Ha! They accused the UMP of retroactive arrogance, and spit in their faces for not having buried them-the Socialists-under an indecent landslide.

Some of Ségolène Royal's loyalists--Julien Dray and Jean-Louis Bianco-- came out on top in tough battles. Arnaud Montebourg won by a skinny margin. Others-- Peillon, Chevènement, and Menucci-lost.

François Bayrou won heartily, with 61% of the vote; Socialist Dominique Strauss Kahn tallied 60.2%, the Green Party's Yves Cochet beat Nicole Guedj; Arno Klarsfeld lost, so did the Front National's daughter Marine Le Pen.

Former Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres lost; current Minister Alain Juppé lost and consequently resigned from Sarkozy's cabinet; Michèle Alliot-Marie won and remains in her post as Interior Minister.

These ups and downs at the Parliamentary level did not inspire the same passions as the presidential election-final round abstention was 39%.

If I were on the scene, I would also be able to tell you how many people were poring over the election results, district by district, and how many were reading Ségolène Royal's tell-all book. If my memory is correct, it's called Chronique d'une défaite. Will she corroborate the story told in that other book, published last month by two le Monde journalists who claim she entered the race as a woman scorned? Or will she explain how Hollande's sentimental perfidy made her lost the presidential race? Is it true that Hollande's romantic interest is Anne Hidalgo, deputy mayor of Paris? Will she - Hidalgo-- want to run for president in 2012? There will be time for many more liaisons dangereuses between now and then.

The media had apparently decided with one single mind to deny rumors of the Hollande-Royal divorce (or should we call it a dépacsion, because they weren't married, they were pacsés). As the rumors became more persistent, the denials intensified. Just last week I saw a warm Royal-Hollande kiss on the evening news. Now, suddenly, the truth is out, and the cold shoulder photo they'd been holding in the morgue is on the front page.

Earlier:

French legislative elections / final round / 17 June

6:30 PM in Jerusalem

by Nidra Poller

In the place I call home this week, the geraniums on the "windowsill" are multiplied by the thousands compared to the crop in my Parisian window boxes. Birds are chirping, leafy trees are swishing in the declining sunlight, the jacaranda is exploding in clumps of purple flowers.

No surprises in store for France tonight. The last ditch attempt of the Socialist party to convince voters that President Sarkozy is going to raise the VAT by several percentage points or, in other words, steal bread from the mouths of the hungry, has apparently flopped. Voter turnout is about equal to last week, meaning no rush of Socialist voters to turn the tables and steal the legislature from the mouths of the UMP.

The only question is how big of a majority will Sarkozy's party win? Will the Socialists maintain their current rate of 150 deputies? I'm guessing they'll lose as many as ten.

Ségolène Royal is not making any speeches tonight. She is in Melle; she is not running for re-election as deputy of the Deux-Sèvres but she can count on her provincial groupies to keep that Royal smile floating above the fray. François Hollande will make a pronunciamento, which I will catch up on tomorrow and report as soon as I can find an open slot my Jerusalem calendar.

Lovely weather in Paris today. Gorgeous weather in Jerusalem. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm on my way to speak at a private party, with some high power guests.

As I was checking the 1 PM newscasts on French TV, I caught this bit of breaking news on the streamer: a barrage of rockets on Kiryat Shmona.

More on that in my coming article "Dovid melech yisroel and other elections."