Saturday, September 19, 2009

Open War?

Ségolène Royal was in Montpellier today, and her message to her followers was quite simple: it's time to "transcend the PS" and "create the powerful and open movement that the country wants." Is this a declaration of war against the Socialist Party? I was going to say "against her own party," but it seems increasingly clear that Ségo no longer regards the PS as her party or as essential to her quest for the presidency. As for the movement that the country "wants," I suspect that even Ségo has no illusions about being wanted personally. What she seems to be banking on is that smoldering discontent with Sarkozy can be fanned into a movement, which will then seek a leader, for which position she is hereby tendering her candidacy.

I don't think either premise of this argument is correct. The discontent with Sarko is no more coherent now than it has been at any time in his presidency, indeed probably less so. And even if it were to cohere, there is no reason to think that it will automatically cohere around Royal. I think she is less popular now than she was when she lost the presidential election. She has not grown in opposition, and the sheer fear of a Sarkozy presidency, which was her main trump before, has diminished, as he has proven to be a president like the others rather than a Trojan horse who would either bring the aliens (neoliberal aliens) into the city or else empower those whose abiding aim was to toss the aliens out.

Obama Will Upstage Sarkozy

It looks like Obama will steal Sarkozy's thunder at the G20: he will come on strongly in favor of limiting bankers' compensation, along lines set forth yesterday by Tim Geithner. This had been Sarko's signature issue and the object of his walkout threat. Now the headlines will be Obama's, except perhaps in France. But the devil will remain in the details, as I suggested in my post yesterday. The banks are already inventing schemes to circumvent the regulations.

Sarkozy Reads Proust

That's what it says here. I am therefore announcing today a French Politics contest. Entrants must choose which character in Proust Sarkozy most resembles and explain the reasons for their choice. A prize will be awarded to the winner: a copy of Sarko's biography Georges Mandel: Le Moine de la politique.