Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lagarde Tips Hand

The French stimulus package will be about 1% of GDP, according to Christine Lagarde. This makes it comparable in size to Gordon Brown's package.

Calming the Game

So Ségolène has conceded, and Martine Aubry is now first secretary of a party whose national council reproduces all the divisions of the recent congress and the season of fruitless renovation that led up to it. My imagination ran away with me: I had thought that such a mass of contradictions could not be managed by a leader elected by a vanishingly small margin, with no real legitimacy since the coalition that elected her was held together by the least common denominator of Anybody But Ségolène. This was not to reckon with the nature of the PS, which has been a menagerie of contraries for decades. They have muddled through once again, and will continue to muddle through, because that is what this party does. Its differences will continue to erupt from time to time, but eventually it will choose a candidate, and eventually that candidate will lose to Sarkozy unless--as is equally likely--the political landscape is so utterly transformed between now and 2012 that nothing that seems certain today will even make sense in that unknowable future. Henceforth, in watching the Socialist Party, my motto will be, Du calme! even when the most improbable events--such as a dead heat in an election of 175,000 votes--come to pass.

Sarko and Merkel Publish Joint Statement

Sarkozy and Merkel have published a joint statement on the crisis. They agree that stimulus plans will have to be adapted to each country's situation but envision measures to support small and medium businesses, households, and infrastructure projects, as well as the transportation and energy sectors.

Aubry by 102

Martine Aubry a été élue premier secrétaire du Parti socialiste avec 67 451 voix contre 67 349 à Ségolène Royal, soit 102 voix de différence, a annoncé, mardi 25 novembre, Kader Arif, rapporteur de la commission chargée de statuer sur ce scrutin contesté. (AFP)

ORTF bis?

The personnel of France TV are on strike today. Charles Bremner ably runs down the history and the grievances.

EU Stimulus Plan: "Window-Dressing"

The EU stimulus plan is mere "window-dressing," according to Jean Quatremer--of necessity, because the EU has no adequate means to act on its own. What else is new? Except that in this case claims have been made for Sarkozy's uniquely active role in achieving "coordination" among the European powers. If so, this coordination was certainly not in evidence yesterday, when Angela Merkel came to Paris with une réponse romaine: Nein, as one says in the dialect of Latin spoken in Berlin. But the need for cooperation, particularly between France and Germany, has never been greater. Each has substantial trade with the other, so uncoordinated stimulus plans could be partly wasted effort. Never has the poor chemistry between Merkel and Sarkozy seemed quite so important. To be sure, the problem goes deeper than differences between the two leaders. There is a fundamental difference in economic strategy and history, as this Institut Montaigne note makes clear. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of this quarrel.

Bouvet on Ségo

Laurent Bouvet, in a very interesting comment on Ségolène Royal's remarkable success in countering the move to marginalize her within the PS, suggests that the Tout Sauf Ségo faction(s) might achieve their goal of denying her the candidacy in 2012 by letting her become party leader now. Something to read while awaiting the announcement from the PS National Council, which will decide later today who won the election.