French Regional Elections
France is administratively divided into 26 regions, which are subdivided into between two and eight departments. Languedoc-Roussillon is made up of five departments, Hérault, Gard, Aude, Lozère, and Pyrénées-Orientales.
Each region has discretionary powers for spending on education, public transport, town and urban planning etc. When Regional Elections take place, the presidencies of each region are at stake, and although the regions don’t have legislative autonomy, they manage sizeable budgets and are a power to be reckoned with within the region.
The last Regional Elections took place on March 14th and 21st 2010 for each of France’s 26 regional councils. The ‘Conseil Régional’ is usually elected for six years, and as with the ‘Elections municipales’, voters will vote for a ‘liste’ of candidates, usually based on political parties, or alliance of parties.
In the first round, any list which achieves majority (+50% of the votes) obtains the majority of the seats and the rest are distributed, according to the proportional system, between lists which have obtained at least 10% of the votes. However, this majority is rare and normally a second round is necessary. Each list must receive at least 10% of the vote if they are to continue into the second round, to be held on 21st March. The list with the most votes in the second round, will receive one-fourth of council seats and the rest will be allocated proportionally for all lists who received at least 10% of the vote.
The left overwhelmingly won the last regional elections, in 2004, but lost the presidency in 2007 to Nicolas Sarkozy, (UMP), because of internal squabbling. Sarkozy upholds a majority in parliament, but the regional vote will be telling as regards his popularity and give an idea of political mood for the 2012 presidential vote.