Back-room deals, black lists and bitter duels. Political and personal intrigue has wormed its way into Sunday’s final round of French legislative elections. President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party is battling to assure a solid majority and fulfill his vows to boost growth in Europe and redefine the presidency as one beholden to the people. Barring surprises, the Socialists and their allies should win enough seats to control the crucial 577-seat lower house of parliament, after a strong showing in the first round a week ago. To get there, the party is trying to fend off conservatives who dominated parliament under former President Nicolas Sarkozy. They’re also trying to shame those in the mainstream right who are cutting vote-getting deals with the extreme right, anti-immigrant National Front, which is conniving for its first real presence in parliament in more than a quarter century. “The right no longer knows where it lives. It no longer knows what it is,” said Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici this week on France 2 TV. “It’s lost its markers, its identity, its values.”
One unexpected hitch for the Socialists flew straight out of Hollande’s most inner circle: His live-in companion’s tweet this week in support of a dissident candidate in western France, a not-so-subtle attack on the Socialist Party’s official candidate — the president’s ex-partner and mother of his four children, Segolene Royal. Royal is portrayed in the French press as the nemesis of a jealous Valerie Trierweiler, whose tweet on Tuesday upended the image Hollande has been trying to project: that of a “normal” leader intent on keeping the public and private spheres separate.