Sunday, December 6, 2009

Besancenot to Bayrou or Bust

As is well-known, Ségolène Royal would like to build a broad-based coalition on the left stretching, as she has put it, from "Besancenot to Bayrou." The alliteration works, but further details of how this might be accomplished have been slow to materialize. A couple of days ago she proposed an alliance with MoDem in the first round of the regionals. The PS (Hamon, Hollande) has now rejected this idea: no surprise there.

The strategy, though never very plausible, actually made more sense in 2007 than it does now. At the time, the "anybody but Sarkozy" sentiment was still high, polls showed Bayrou ahead of Ségo as a blocking candidate, and he had yet to make the disastrous showing in the European elections that has left him damaged goods. Then the abortive grand bargain between rounds 1 and 2 ("I'll make you prime minister if you back my presidency") failed to come off and thus did not turn Ségo into the John Quincy Adams of her generation and Bayrou into the Henry Clay.

The B2B strategy remains, and could be revived after the PS has chosen a candidate, but for the regionals it's a nonstarter. And anyway, the force to contend with for now is the Greens, not MoDem. A Green alliance would be healthier for the PS: it would force it to clarify its policy stance on several major issues. With MoDem, the prospect of agreement on the issues is always overshadowed by the prime mover in the relationship: tout sauf Sarkozy.

Will the Real France Please Step Forward?

From Rue89:

"Le grand débat sur l'identité nationale, lancé par Eric Besson, n'est pas seulement rejeté par la gauche. A droite, de plus en plus de voix s'élèvent contre ce coup politique, au point que Nicolas Sarkozy donne l'impression de s'être retiré du débat."

But:

"Quant au porte-parole de l'UMP, Frédéric Lefebvre, il s'est à nouveau distingué de ses collègues en prenant la défense du maire de Gussainville :

« Je ne partage pas les propos qu'il a tenus, mais en même temps, ce que je veux dire, c'est qu'il est maire d'une commune de 40 habitants. Il y a beaucoup de petits villages comme ça qui font la France. Il y a une
inquiétude en France. Ce que je n'aime pas, c'est la manière dont tout le monde lui tombe dessus. » "


How Unshockable Are the French?

Asked and answered. I'm not so sure. What makes these kinds of scandal so damaging elsewhere is the amplification and repetition by the tabloids and cable stations. The French media are on the whole more deferential to politicians. But perhaps that is changing as well, as Bernard Girard believes. And for some transgressions, there is no tolerance.