Friday, November 26, 2010

Sarkozy le Tocquevillien

When Nicolas Sarkozy praises local democracy, he sounds a bit like Tocqueville:

« Je n'ai jamais été de ceux qui pensent qu'il y a trop de communes. Parce qu'au fond, ces 500 000 conseillers municipaux, ces 36 500 communes, c'est peut être aussi pour ça qu'en France il fait si bon vivre. On a autant de communes que tous les autres pays d'Europe... Mais au fond, y a un savoir-vivre à la Française qui est peut être aussi la conclusion, l'héritage d'une démocratie locale extrêmement vivante.»


And he's not wrong. But he is perhaps allowing his rhetoric to obscure certain parts of the larger picture, a faulg from which Tocqueville, too, was not always immune.

Sarkozy n'est pas à un paradoxe près. Son éloge de la simplification s'arrête aux départements et aux régions. Les élections cantonales, puis sénatoriales partielles, sont prévues l'an prochain. On est jamais trop prudent. Tout juste se permet-il de critiquer le nombre de structures intercommunales.

The Grand Bargain

So Martine Aubry, Ségolène Royal, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn have agreed, it seems, among themselves that one of them will be the presidential candidate of the PS. What the other two get in exchange has not been revealed.

I wonder if any of the three reads American history. Perhaps they have heard of the 1824 pact that gave John Q. Adams the presidency and made Henry Clay Secretary of State (if it actually existed). In the end it didn't work out so well: its enemies labeled it "the Corrupt Bargain," and partly on the strength of that label Andrew Jackson won the presidency in 1828 and destroyed Adams' National Republican Party once and for all. Just sayin' ...

Clarification: This bargain does not mean that there will be no other candidates in the primary! It means that  the "big three" have agreeed that ONLY ONE of them will be a candidate. Their assumption is that only one of them can possibly win. They may, of course, be wrong. But Holland, Valls, and Montebourg are almost sure to be candidates unless something changes. And something could very well change. The PS could decide that it wants to present a united front, for example, and the other ambitious proto-candidates could be bought off in one way or another. The more interesting question is what the Big Three have decided among themselves. Any guesses?