Saturday, October 1, 2011

Juppé in the Wings?

The timing is interesting: The New York Times today has a quite laudatory profile of Alain Juppé, highlighting his contrast with Nicolas Sarkozy. Only yesterday Juppé himself revealed that he sometimes "dreams with his eyes open" about the possibility that some "surprise" might make him president. With many on the Right grumbling more or less publicly, especially after the Senate loss last Sunday, that Sarkozy is going to pull down the house around him, many are hoping for just such a divine surprise.

Of course we are seeing similar rumblings in the US as one Republican candidate after another stumbles out of the box. As the Rick Perry boomlet subsides, now we have a Chris Christie boomlet. And in France we have an Alain Juppé boomlet. Have the '95 strikes been forgotten already? The felony conviction? To be sure, Juppé mellowed somewhat while in Canadian exile, but the opposition can dredge up any number of Marie-Antoinette style "Let them eat cake!" pronouncements from his past. He may look like an ideal candidate for the moment simply because he is not Nicolas Sarkozy, speaks impeccable French, has a rapier wit, and displays Normalien precision in discussing any number of dossiers. Steven Erlanger says that the French can overlook these qualités because he has the redeeming défaut of dullness, which makes him un homme sérieux. On the contrary, he is the ultimate énarque, the man who knows better about absolutely everything. He might make an excellent president, but as a candidate I think he would quickly look like St. Sebastian.


FrédéricLN said...

Other hypotheses :

The main root for his present rise may be his success as Mayor or Bordeaux. The French do not necessarily know what Juppé himself did or decided for Bordeaux; but Bordeaux is now one of the attractive poles in France (like Toulouse, Nantes… - somethink like Grenoble was in the late 80's or Montpellier-Rennes in the 90's) and people know Juppé is the Mayor of Bordeaux.

The enarchic profile is indeed a weakness for a candidate, but the right chose deliberately his only 'non-enarchic-profile", the perfect kitchens seller or perfect battler, for the 2007 presidential election, and many voters are quite dissatisfied with the outcome. Moreover, in the primary on the left side, the favorite is also the perfect énarque (F. Hollande), the risk is thus limited.

In the same meaning: despite Juppé and Jospin's dull styles, their Administrations (1995-97 and 97-2002) where the last recovery period for French growth and French public finances. People may also not remember that very clearly — but that means they cannot easily be attacked on that field, which is a major field in French policy debate now.

Last, the felony conviction is there, but every French would have attributed the real responsibility to Juppé's boss, namely Chirac; as long as Chirac could not be brought to a Court, Juppé carried somehow the guilt; it isn't the case anymore.

Disclaimer: Juppé is one of the seldom friends or good comrades my own political leader (Bayrou) may have in UMP; disclaimer 2: is saw and heard Juppé live for the first time two years ago at an event at the Sorbonne, and had a very positive impression of the way he combines now his old "Mr-Know-all" personality with a good and more recent lot of empathy and warmth.

bernard said...

Well, if he does as well as his predecessor at the townhall (chaban delmas 1974 anyone?), Sarkozy should feel relatively safe...

Cincinna said...

The left wing NYT has gone gaga over Alain Juppé whom they view as the anti-Sarko, and thus a hero in the eyes of the left. Divide & conquer.
  Same as what’s happening in the GOP primary race: Leftists glorifying Republicans Romney & Huntsman because they fear a true conservative who would actually stand a better chance of beating Obama.

Julien S said...

Almost any politician whos profile is highlighted in contrast with that of Nicolas Sarkozy would look good. Enough said, and I should be so surprised that FrédéricLN is showing off at great length his totally ephemerally relevant knowledge on this matter.