Democratic Movement (MoDem)

Democratic Movement (MoDem), which this year is running in coalition with the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI).

After the formation of the UMP, the Union for French Democracy, the more centrist part of the centre-right was left as a rump. From 112 seats in the National Assembly and 14.2% of the vote in 1997, a year that the right lost, to 4.9% of the vote and 27 seats in 2002, a year that the right won, the UDF was left as a shadow of its former self. The remaining fragments of the party were re-orientated into the New UDF, a tighter, more ideologically centrist beast with social liberal tendencies (with the party’s more right-wing factions having joined the UMP).

The party was then left divided between those who wished to continue alliance with the UMP (the bulk of the party’s MPs who tended to win their seats through electoral alliance with the UMP) and those who desired a more independent line, including the party’s leader, Francois Bayrou and most of its activists.

Bayrou attempted to steer the party somewhat between the two positions for a while, refusing to cooperate with the government, though one of his fellow party MPs served as a minister in the Chirac government.

In the run-up to 2007 Presidential election, Bayrou adopted a more left-liberal tone to his campaign, and in a campaign dominated by candidates moving rightwards he moved left. As a result he began to win support from the left, pulling support from the faltering campaign of PS candidate Segolene Royal. Bayrou hinted that if elected President he might appoint a Socialist president and called for proportional representation. His poll numbers reached a stage where he was challenging Royal for second place, before falling back as the election closed in. He won 18.6% of the vote, beating the FN to fourth, and coming within 7 points of the run-off.

Bayrou then fundamentally misjudged the situation, declaring the need for a third pole in French politics and announcing the formation of a new party, the Democratic Movement, a social liberal and centrist party, with minor Christian Democratic factions, which would not ally with the left or the right. The MoDem won 7.6% of the vote, way down from Bayrou’s Presidential score. While this was the third best score for any French party, it won only 3 seats, one of which was on the French overseas department of Reunion, where personality dominates over party.

Meanwhile the majority of the UDF’s MPs formed the New Centre, and continued their alliance with the UMP. While the party won only 2.2% of the vote, it won 22 seats due to this alliance.

The Democratic Movement then proceeded to continue losing support. Bayrou began to subtlely lean left for the 2012 elections, winning 9.1% of the vote, way down from his 2009 result. He refused to endorse any party in the second round, but stated that he would, personally, vote for Francois Hollande. His hope was apparently that this soft endorsement would cause the PS to smile kindly upon him, but the PS did not and won his seat in the subsequent legislative election where the MoDem won 1.8% and was reduced to 2 seats.

Meanwhile the New Centre began to desire a stronger centre itself, and formed an alliance with other small centrist parties allied with the UMP such as the Radicals, a historic French left-liberal party, which was now an affiliate of the UMP. The alliance reoriented itself into a new party, the Union of Democrats and Independents with a similar structure to the old UDF – parties could directly affiliate to it.

The MoDem and the UDI are running joint lists this year, in an attempt to strengthen the centre. It is unclear if the MoDem and UDI may merge and recreate something similar to the UDF if the coalition is successful. It is also unclear what the basis of the merged party might be.

The old UDF formed a leading component of a centrist European political party, the European Democratic Party. The EDP was once a sizeable component of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, but has now been reduced to 8 MEPs, 6 of them MoDem. The MoDem is a relatively disloyal member of ALDE, reflecting that the MoDem is less of a liberal party than a centrist party. It votes with ALDE 88.3% of the time. A small green party that was affliated to it in 2009, CAP 21 votes with ALDE even less at 76.3% loyalty. CAP 21 is the least loyal member of ALDE, bar two Austrian independents, and MoDem proper is the fifth least loyal.

Due to their alliance with the UMP in 2009, the current UDI MEPs sit in the European People’s Party. These MEPs are even less loyal to their group than the UMP, with between 94.9% and 96.0% loyalty.

It is likeliest that the MoDem-UDI MEPs will sit together in ALDE proper, with the European Democratic Party essentially dead.

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