Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trapped?

Has the PS been trapped by the "golden rule?" In order to meet Germany's demands, France must inscribe a balanced-budget amendment in its Constitution, and that requires approval by the Senate, now controlled by the left. Baroin made this point prefectly clear today. For Sarkozy, it might seem like a win-win situatiion: either the PS shares responsibility for this widely-disliked step, or the deal fails, France loses its AAA (which it will anyway), and the president can blame the PS for ... everything.

This is a moment for Hollande to show his stuff. Set conditions for cooperation. Demand concessions in return. Map out an alternative path forward. Will he rise to the challenge? Nothing is less certain. Boldness has never been his forte. But this is a test, and neither surrender nor reserve are options. He must take a stand on how the future of Europe and of France's role in Europe are to be defined.

3 comments:

James Conran said...

Hard to see what concessions could turn a balanced budget amendment into a good policy though....

Mitch Guthman said...

Baroin may have overestimated the UMP's position. Yes, Sakozy is probably feeling pretty smug right now. But I also think there are dangers for the UMP because the alliance with Germany and the technocrats and the bankers carries some significant risks, too. I think this might be Hollande’s big (perhaps only) opening to reach out to the workers and the middle class. He needs to say that these groups weren’t represented when Sarkozy and Merkel “negotiated” because the UMP doesn’t really care about those groups. The UMP is the party of the bankers, oligarchies and of the faceless Eurocrats of Brussels, etc.

Hollande needs to point out that the workers and the middle class (indeed the French people generally) weren't at the table. But now, there is an opportunity to have a debate because the cooperation of the PS is suddenly required. The PS wants to save Europe but not at the cost of destroying France. Not at the cost of betraying the workers and not if it means betraying the middle classes. PS is going to demand a seat at the table for the interests of workers and the middle classes as the price for even considering any measures in the Senate. Let Sarkozy represent the bankers, the technocrats and the Germans. The PS will represent the workers and the middle class of France against the bankers, against Brussels and against Germany.

At which point he should begin to lay out the PS’s manifesto for the future of France, which must include as minimum demands the preservation of the social safety net, worker’s rights, including a different approach to globalization increased taxes on the rich and, naturally, the preservation of France as a both an independent nation and a republic.

In fact, it’s potentially a win-win for Hollande----it could be his moment if only he can grasp it. He’s got to go big!

Noah Berkowitz said...

Nice article.
keep posting like this post. :-)