Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Arun Kapil's Discussion of the PS Primary

Here.

Montebourg's Letter

Arnaud Montebourg has thrown down his gauntlet. You can read the content of his challenge here. And then you can imagine how Aubry and Hollande will try to finesse the differences tomorrow night. Regulating the financial system (par. 1) is the easy part: both will say they're for it without committing themselves to anything specific. Par. 2, "European protectionism," is harder. Montebourg here abandons the vagueness of "démondialisation" and calls a spade a spade. Protectionism is all his posturing comes down to, and if either candidate embraces the word, despite the European qualifier, some votes will be lost while others may be gained, if Montebourg's voters take the bait. What "European protectionism" actually means is of course as vague as what financial regulation actually means. And then comes, par. 3, a grab-bag of "Sixth Republic" reforms, some good (independent parliamentary investigations, vote for foreign residents), some bad (term limits, popular initiative).

Frankly, I think this is a softball, and the principal interest of the exercise will be to see how the candidates handle it, how adroit each of them proves to be in saying nothing seductively--an art at which Montebourg excels. He concludes with a curious statement that his program is feasible and not very costly and, what's more, if the Socialists don't propose it or something like it, Sarkozy will. Indeed, he's right. What we're likely to hear from Sarkozy is gestures in each of these directions: financial reform, protection of domestic industry, and modest changes in governance. And we'll hear the same thing from the Left. There is nothing radical in Montebourg's letter, and there will be nothing radical on offer from either party--unless financial collapse or social unrest comes sooner rather than letter.

Electoral Demographics

Mediapart corrects some false impressions of the distribution of votes in the PS primary:

C'est le principal enseignement du premier tour. Comme lors des derniers scrutins européens et locaux, la mobilisation électorale dans les quartiers populaires est très, très faible. Malgré un fort nombre de bureaux de vote (estimé à près de 1.000, sur 9.500), l'échec est patent. Un rapide regard sur quelques bureaux de vote emblématiques montre l'ampleur de la désaffection: Villiers-le-Bel, 190 votants ; la cité des Cosmonautes à Saint-Denis 44 votants ; 178 à la cité des Francs-Moisins ; à Ogermont-Epinay 228 votants ; à la cité Vert-Galant de Tremblay 297 votants ; 94 à Bobigny ; Les Ulis-République recueillent 87 votes ; 139 voix à Grigny-Salle des fêtes, 130 à Vaulx-en-Velin Mairie...
...
Le clivage grands centres urbains/zones rurales et villes moyennes
Hollande pointe en tête dans plus de 90% des départements, mais il fait surtout ses voix dans les villes moyennes (par exemple Angers, Limoges, Le Mans, Laval ou Cherbourg) et les zones rurales, particulièrement dans l'ouest et le centre du pays. Dans son entourage, on aurait toutefois espéré de meilleurs résultats, avec des écarts plus grands (notamment dans les campagnes) et davantage de votants, histoire d'assurer une large victoire nationale.
...
Frédéric Sawicki préfère parier sur «un clivage générationnel entre "20/30 ans" et "plus de 40 ans"», que sur une opposition réductrice entre «vote bobo et vote de périphérie». «Dans l'est parisien, il n'y a pas que des bobos. En revanche, la sociologie des grandes villes regroupe un public d'étudiants et de jeunes actifs. Quand on grandit et qu'on forme une famille, on quitte le centre…», explique-t-il. Selon lui, «le vote Aubry semble plus intellectuel, type "métiers de la culture et communication", face à un vote Hollande plus "terroir et rassurance économique"». Même s'il n'a pas affiné ses remontées de terrain, un responsable du MJS indique que «très clairement, les jeunes ont essentiellement voté dans les villes universitaires», les mêmes où Aubry réalise ses meilleurs scores.

The Paris Vote

The map of Paris voting is quite interesting. Hollande took the western part of the city, including the wealthiest arrondissements, while Aubry took the east, running up some of her highest percentages in the most populaire districts. Montebourg did somewhat better in the east than in the west as well, but he had respectable scores in the west. Valls did best in the 16th Arrdt.

So, while it's foolish to say that Martine Aubry was the candidate of le peuple de gauche, she did outpoll Hollande in areas with strong working-class and issue de l'immigration representation.

The Montebourg Moment

Bruno Roger-Petit compares Arnaud Montebourg's week-long star turn to François Bayrou's two weeks of glory between rounds of the 2007 presidential election. And where is Bayrou now, runs the unspoken refrain? Indeed, Montebourg may be overplaying his hand. He seemed just a bit smug on France2 last night. But then again, what can he do? He took a position sharply different from both of the frontrunners and did better than expected. So it would be unseemly if he suddenly pivoted to support one of them. He has to play out his hand, and even he has no idea whether people voted for him because they are "démondialistes" or because they'd rather have anyone but Aubry or Hollande as their candidate. He represents a new generation, as Ségolène did in 2006. He's good-looking. He speaks well. And he has sounded a different note. So he has 17% of 2.5 million votes and for the next few days will be sitting pretty. After that, the moving finger will have moved on.

"Les deux impétrants"

Arnaud Montebourg caused a bit of a stir by referring to his two successful rivals as "les deux impétrants." Bernard Girard comments wryly that Montebourg likes to give himself an air of cultivation, but the word isn't all that rare, as it has become, somewhat improperly, a synonym for "applicant," reflecting, as Bernard notes, the proper sense of the term, which denotes a person who has received a favor from a competent authority. The dictionary's illustrative quotes suggest an almost ironic intent to Montebourg's usage:

Il adressa au pape une supplique pro apostasia (...) le pape lui octroya gratis (...) la composition des bulles d'absolution. Il n'en coûta à l'impétrant que l'expédition (A. FranceRabelais, 1909, p. 108). Une fois l'impétrante relevée et embrassée par la princesse, celle-ci se rasseyait, se remettait à sa patience (ProustGuermantes 2, 1921, p. 455). ... Les certificats d'aptitude relatifs au second examen, signés par le doyen, sont transmis au recteur de l'académie, qui, par délégation du ministre de l'Éducation Nationale, les ratifie et les délivre aux impétrants (Encyclop. éduc., 1960, p. 213).− P. plaisant. Ledit autobus était complet, plus que complet même, oserai-je dire, car le receveur avait pris en surcharge plusieurs impétrants (QueneauExerc. style, 1947, p. 43).

In any case, I expect François Hollande, whose wit is perhaps his best quality, to solicit the approval, as premier impétrant,  of le premier des recalés. This would counter the charge of the Aubrystes that he is mou (which, as Bernard Girard also observes, may not be altogether to his disadvantage).