Monday, October 17, 2011
Can Aubry Remain Atop the PS?
A commenter disputed my argument that Hollande would run, and win, in the center by noting that he had pledged to run on the party platform, which is arguably tilted leftward. To my mind, this objection overestimates the role of the platform, as vague as it is, as well as the degree of its "leftish" slant. Perhaps the only real problem in it for Hollande is the promise to return the "early retirement age" (thanks, Kirk, for the correct terminology) to 60. But Hollande has already shown how he is going to finesse this plank by adhering to 41.5 years of contributions as the criterion for full benefits. Sure, the Right will beat him about the head with the contradiction between the party's fixation on age 60 and the fact that Hollande's actual position coincides with Sarkozy's most recent reform. But this won't decide the election. Nor will any other single plank in the platform. Voters mainly want to be convinced that Hollande can fill the role of president (the problem of "incarnation," as Pierre Rosanvallon calls it), and Hollande has already shown how he is going to attack that issue: by presenting himself as a "normal" leader, by implication painting Sarkozy as an aberration--an argument that apparently most voters are prepared to accept, since their rejection of the current president, as reflected in his extraordinarily low approval ratings, cannot be accounted for by his record alone, which has been mediocre but hardly catastrophic.