Shake up among main party ranks

Former members from the right wing UMP and socialist parties inch towards a centrist alliance

The Socialist Party candidate for Nice’s mayoral race, Patrick Allemand, officially opened his campaign on Sunday, shortly after his right hand man Marc Concas left the party. Two more deputies also resigned from current mayor Christian Estrosi’s cabinet over the weekend.

With the two main candidates’ campaigns well underway in Nice’s upcoming municipal election, one could expect their ranks to hold strong. But alliances are constantly shifting in the local political landscape.

Marc Concas, long time right hand man of local Socialist leader Patrick Allemand, tendered his resignation from the party and from Allemand’s campaign on Thursday 5th December. The decision hardly came as a surprise to most – relations between the two politicians has been tense for the past few months. The timing however, only two days before the official launch of the campaign, forced Allemand to cover his former ally’s name with stickers on the party’s local headquarter walls.

In his announcement speech on Sunday, Allemand said he wanted to give local democracy a breath of fresh air. In an aim to embody unity, he’s sharing the ballot with multiple smaller party leaders such as Dominique Boy-Mottard of Gauche Autrement, Fabrice Decoupigny of the Europe Ecology Green party, as well as Ladislas Polski of the Citizen Republican Movement party.

Patrick Allemand has been heavily criticising current mayor Christian Estrosi on his financial management of the city. However, Marc Concas described his former fellow socialist as an “incoherent man, who’s been unable to beat Christian Estrosi for years, on any political field,” Nice Matin reports.

Recent polls do indeed give Estrosi a significant lead. With 55 per cent of the popular vote according to the Artenice polling agency and 47 per cent according to Ifop, the right wing mayor has more than twice the popularity of his socialist opponent, who is second in the polls at 18 per cent.

But the climate in the city hall’s offices doesn’t appear to be stable either. Over the past three months, four of the mayor’s deputies have resigned, two of them during the past weekend. In her letter of resignation, Andrée Alziari-Nègre said she could no longer support the mayor whose politics are dictated by public relations stunts, while Brigitte Tanauji-Dahan said that she has regained her freedom of thought and expression.

Interestingly enough, an alliance between the resigning politicians from both sides of the aisle seems to be in the making. Marc Concas hasn’t ruled out collaborating with former Estrosi allies Olivier Bettati and Benoit Kandel, and has praised their departure from the mayor’s office. Bettati, who announced his candidacy last week right after resigning as Estrosi’s deputy, told Nice Premium he was ready to work with anyone to beat the current mayor. Former mayor cabinet colleague Andrée Alziari-Nègre has already joined Bettati’s campaign.

Olivier Bettati’s budding alliance had only four per cent of the votes in Ifop’s latest poll, but 17 per cent of those polled by Artenice’s wish to vote for someone unaffiliated with either the right wing UMP or the Socialist party. However, even if Bettati wins them all over, he would still be trailing far behind Christian Estrosi.

Also published on the Riviera Times Online