How would the Right like the PS primary to turn out? It would have been hard to tell from listening yesterday to Jean-François Copé, who vied with Pierre Moscovici in rudeness yesterday on France2. Copé had one point to make--that the 2.5 million Socialist voters were an unrepresentative and insignificant sample of the French electorate--and he made it as loudly, repeatedly, and unpleasantly as he could, while Moscovici was intent on painting "a great victory for democracy, the Left, and the Socialist Party," as if Sunday's better-than-expected turnout would somehow go down in history alongside the Popular Front demonstrations of 1936 or the 1981 liesse following the victory of Mitterrand. Those two almost made Laurent Fabius look like a sage--no mean feat.
But what does the Right really think about yesterday's results? If Aubry captures the Montebourg vote and absorbs any part of the Montebourg line, Sarkozy would probably be pleased. There would be plenty of contradictions to attack. Sarkozy could probably mount a stronger campaign against Aubry than against Hollande. On the other hand, working-class FN voters may be tempted by this more protectionist, anti- --or, pardon me, de- --globalization left. Even without the anti-immigrant line, this would be a more "populaire" left, likely to frighten some on the right who have grown weary of Sarkozy. So the net effect might be to weaken the FN in the first round while modestly strengthening the UMP vote--both to Sarkozy's benefit, since his worst nightmare has to be a first-round loss to Le Pen. In the second round, he would no doubt emphasize the "gauchisme" of the alliance of Mme 35 Heures with Arnaud "Mélenchon." A lot would then depend on Aubry's poise as a candidate, both on the stump and in debate. Perhaps we'll get an idea of how she would perform in this week's crucial debate with Hollande.