Thierry Desjardins evokes the several overtures, or rumors of overture, that have emerged in recent days about possible alliances in the center of the political spectrum. Borloo reaches out to Villepin and Hulot, etc. Of course this is an exceedingly amorphous political space. Desjardins is right that there are a lot of votes here, but it's hard to see any way to bring those votes together on a single candidate. And a lot depends on what the PS does. If, in line with my previous post, Aubry is tempted to run hard to her left, rejecting the social-democratic wing of the party, there will be even more voters who might be tempted by a centrist candidacy of some sort. But I doubt that any of these three men can fill the bill. Hulot is an amateur, as his handling of the Borloo overture revealed. Borloo himself is a novice in this high-stakes game. And Villepin hasn't much of a base and has a gift for alienating potential allies with his quixotic sallies. For the moment, all I see is turmoil without motion.
If Ségolène Royal had run a better campaign in 2007, she might have a shot at rallying center-left, center-right, and greens. Although she comes in for more criticism than she deserves, I think she deserves enough of it that it will be hard for her to build a credible candidacy in the center, particularly since she has committed herself to the Socialist primary.
What about Bayrou? Perhaps my friend Frédéric L-N will give us an insider's view. We need one, because if there is a "media wall," as someone suggested the other day, Bayrou hasn't broken through it. I'm not sure why he hasn't emerged with a higher profile in this year's presidential sweepstakes. His showing in 2007 should entitle him to a certain consideration. To be sure, his party has suffered setbacks since then, and he did himself no good by striking a low blow at Cohn-Bendit in a televised debate. But presidential politics are very different from politics in regional and European elections, because in the end the race has to converge on two candidates. In 2007, there were some who anticipated a swing to Bayrou as "the anybody but Sarkozy" candidate as Ségolène faltered. In the end, it didn't quite happen, but "anybody but Sarko" is again a leading contender, and if the Socialists cannot overcome their post-DSK disarray, ABS could be even stronger in 2012 than it was five years ago.