Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The FN Leadership Contest

Rue89 has a good account of the differences between Marine Le Pen and Bruno Gollnisch. This bit in particular caught my eye:

Pas facile de situer précisément Marine Le Pen sur l'échiquier des idées politiques. Reprenant le traditionnel discours frontiste, l'héritière y ajoute une tonalité sociale appréciée sur le terrain. A la façon des Italiens de la Ligue du Nord. « Elle n'a pas de fond, c'est sa force. Comme Sarkozy, elle ne pense rien, dit l'ancien idéologue du FN Jean-Claude Martinez. La seule chose, c'est qu'elle croit fermement à la peine de mort. Pour le reste, elle est ultra-compatible avec tout. »

Par comparaison, Martinez trouve en Gollnisch un « conservateur », qui croit au « vote en fonction du nombre d'enfants » Frontiste tendance catho-nationaliste. L'intéressé se définit comme un défenseur de la « la droite nationale », mais certains de ses propos litigieux sont à classer dans la catégorie des dérapages dont Jean-Marie Le Pen est coutumier. En août 2005, il n'hésite pas à qualifier l'antiracisme de « sida mental », reprenant l'expression de Louis Pauwels, l'éditorialiste du Figaro magazine.

Remaniement intime

Sarko is his own prime minister, so he can't deflect blame by firing the PM. The next best thing is to fire some advisors. So today we have confirmation of yesterday's rumors of a shakeup in the staff of the Élysée. Actually, looked at more closely, the report doesn't say that anyone has been fired. Rather, the morning staff meeting has been rearranged. Fewer people will attend. Some advisors seem to have been frozen out. Catherine Pégard has had her office moved farther from the president's, la pauvre. Reason: she was too close to Cécilia (but wasn't she appointed after the remarriage? Well, never mind, surely there are better ways to analyze French politics than to employ the methods of Kremlinology and celebrity tittle-tattle magazines--or, then again, maybe not). Pierre Charon is "in disgrace" for having concocted the theory of a "conspiracy" out to destabilize Sarko by planting the rumor that the presidential couple was on the rocks (as I said, maybe Kremlinology and tittle-tattle are indeed the order of the day). Claude Guéant, it is said, has been cut down to size after consolidating too much power in his own hands. Ainsi va le monde.

Meanwhile, the president himself is in Washington. This time he scored an interview with Katie Couric, who asked him about rumors concerning his private life (ah, how fearless journalists become when they are beyond the reach of presidential ire). It goes with the territory, Sarko replied in essence. He seemed completely unruffled, unlike the time he stormed out of an interview with another CBS reporter who pressed a tender spot. This time he remained completely poker-faced. He's a seasoned president now and knows what to expect from female American journalists.


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"Behaving Normally"

Germans, it is said, are “talking of behaving ‘normally’ now, like the others, and that means nationally." In particular, Germany is said to be seeking closer ties with Russia on energy, and this is supposed to be straining ties with France. Now, this is interesting, because a running theme of this blog in 2007-8 was that France was in fact seeking bilateral deals on energy not only with Russia but with Libya, Algeria, and other suppliers, as well as trading nuclear technology for petroleum. Indeed, Sarkozy's failed Union for the Mediterranean was in part, I thought, an attempt to bypass the EU and place France at the center of a new energy consortium.

To be sure, Germany is in the spotlight now for other reasons, especially its recalcitrance on the Greek bailout (which now seems finalized) and reluctance to show solidarity over the euro. But the Germans are surely right that they are not the only "nationalist" players in this game. With the U.S. military now forecasting world energy shortages as early as 2015 (according to an NPR report broadcast this morning), with petroleum output peaking next year and demand continuing to rise (if the recovery continues), maneuvering on the energy front will become increasingly salient as a component of foreign policy. And this, more than the failure of Copenhagen, may determine the future of the climate, as oil shortages drive countries to faire feu de tout bois, as it were, and de tout charbon, even the most unclean.

Thought for the day

A thought for the day, courtesy of Eric Fassin:

Pourquoi tant de corps aujourd’hui ? C’est pour incarner la politique, accusée d’abstraction. On pourrait y voir un symptôme de la démocratie comme deuil interminable du « corps du roi » : la « crise de la représentation » appellerait un supplément – non point d’âme, mais de corps. On peut aussi, à l’inverse, y lire une tentative pour occulter un déficit démocratique, en compensant des carences politiques par des opérations purement symboliques.