France Looks Left Again

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Look left, look right, and then look left again. That mantra for pedestrian survival might well describe France’s recent political fortunes -- in yesterday’s regional elections, the Socialists further strengthened the grip on power they improbably won last summer, with the only other winner being the far-right National Front.

The result, says TIME correspondent Bruce Crumley, is an indication not so much that the center has been eradicated but that it has been successfully occupied by the Socialists. “This is a vote of confidence in the left’s responsible management of the country,” says Crumley. This week the parties of President Chirac’s center-right alliance face the temptation of holding on to regional premierships by making alliances with the National Front -- the real danger to the center lies in the prospect that they may succumb.