PARIS – The face of French politics changed dramatically in May and June. First, after 17 years of center-right presidents, François Hollande, a Socialist, was elected. Then, a month later, a center-left majority took control of the National Assembly, too, after ten years of right-wing domination.
Meanwhile, the Senate, the French parliament’s upper house, a conservative bastion between the two world wars and ever since, swung to a Socialist majority for the first time in history at the end of 2011. The Socialists also control 20 of France’s 22 regional governments, a majority of the presidencies of the Departments, and most cities with more than 30,000 inhabitants. In short, we are now witnessing a stunning concentration of power that is unprecedented in French republican history.