Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bayrou Worries Hollande

François Hollande can read the polls as well as we do, and Bayrou's rise has him worried. So he has ordered his troops not to go easy on the centrist:
Il n'a pas échappé aux socialistes que depuis deux mois, les intentions de vote en faveur du président du MoDem sont en hausse dans les enquêtes d'opinion. Quand 6 % à 7 % des sondés se disaient prêts à voter pour le centriste au premier tour en novembre dernier, ils sont aujourd'hui de 11 % à 15 %. Depuis son entrée en campagne le 7 décembre, sa progression l'a même fait atteindre un niveau d'intentions de vote légèrement supérieur à celui qu'il avait en 2007.
Si ceux qui se déclarent prêts à voter pour lui se disent encore peu sûrs de leur choix, le président du MoDem a reconquis, en un peu plus d'un mois, une partie de ses électeurs de 2007. Or, ceux-ci l'avaient principalement quitté au profit de François Hollande, a notamment montré le dernier baromètre Ipsos-Logica Business Consulting pour Le Monde, France Télévisions et Radio France, réalisé le 13 et 14 janvier.
Indeed, the whole scenario is reminiscent of 2007. And this is not good news for Hollande, who has yet to "establish his brand" with swing voters. The manifest disorganization of the Socialist campaign organization is one factor. But even more important, I think, is Hollande's frustrating cautiousness. He has yet to define a clear program. He has given signs of following Sarkozy's line of reducing the size of government and accepting austerity as a solution to Europe's crisis. He has failed to challenge the parameters of the deal with Germany in any concrete way but has only said that if he is elected, he will ask for a "renotiation." Worse still, L'Express has reported (perhaps inaccurately) that in a private meeting with CEOs, Hollande allegedly indicated that he would carry austerity even farther than Sarkozy has done, cutting back on occupational training and housing assistance--both of which would be huge errors.


FrédéricLN said...

"Il a évoqué la formation professionnelle et l'aide au logement comme trop coûteuses" -> fully true in France. It's not about reducing housing policy or occupational training; it's about stating that they are paralysed by an ever-growing cost, without any valuable social rationale.

In Ile-de-France, the housing policy works globally as a funding from the poor to the rich (or to the less poor). The poor can hardly get access to social housing and are compelled to choose between living very far from Paris, with huge transportation costs and times; or renting private housing at huge rent costs. Christine Boutin has tried hard to change that in favour of the poor; but the social housing institutions are much too powerful… and too rich… to be opposed effectively, or to be forced to invest and build with their own money. The word "dodus dormants" has been forged to indicate that.

Regarding occupational training, it's divided in two completely different sectors.

Training for jobseekers and people in situations alike, is very efficient (sold at very, very low prices), but not very effective. The word "stages parking" was used in the 80's. The budgets might actually be increased. But the true need is to focus the budgets on employment, not in-rooms-training. Most people with low academic credentials learn by doing. Teaching them how to write, rewrite and rerewrite their resume brings absolutely nothing to their effectiveness once hired, therefore, brings absolutely nothing to the GDP, nor to employment as a whole.

Training for people with a job is sold at very high prices, typically 600 € per person*day. Because the employers are constrained, by law, to spend this money (the "1%"). For some given amount, the more expensive the training, the shorter it will be: the shorter the absence of the employee from his job will be; the less the company will loose. This highly unefficient system could not be changed since decades, because it is run and governed jointly by the Trade Unions and the employers' Unions. They are very well paid for this "governance"; it's maybe their main source of funding. They would never kill "la poule aux oeufs d'or".

Hollande know that, as everybody does; but how could "la gauche" or "la droite" change that? They are respectively narrowly tied, one to the Trade Unions, the other to the employers' Unions.

Massilian said...

I am not too worried for Hollande. If I were UMP, I would worry about Bayrou's power of attraction on the 2007 UMP voters. No more Borloo to bring back the lost sheep. Who is Morin ? If I were a député UMP, I wonder how long I would keep quiet and disciplined if the president keeps tumbling down towards Marine's 21%... And I don't think the official announcement of his candidature will change anything or anything he can announce or do... IMHO he is beyond salvation, but Moscovici is wrong to sell la peau de l'ours.

Anonymous said...

Mitch Guthman said...

Well, maybe Hollande has made a rocky start but I am comforted by the fact that he has chosen for his headquarters a modest building in a good middle-class neighborhood of Paris.

Perhaps the mayor of his new arrondissement might even pay him a welcoming visit and offer some words of encouragement?

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Massilian,

Well, personally I’m worried for Hollande. I’m very worried. I think his entire strategy is predicated on the foolish assumption that he has a “bye” for the first round. He thinks there is a remote possibility that Le Pen will knock Sarkozy in which case he will naturally receive the votes of all of the left and also probably the support of Bayrou. He would be in this position without doing anything and he naturally wants to leave himself room politically to contend for the centrist/center-right portions of the UMP voters who will be unwilling to move to the FN. In this event, I think he sees himself as the beneficiary of an anti-Le Pen front which would make him president almost by acclamation.

But the most likely outcome of the first round is that both Hollande and Sarkozy advance. I think Hollande believes that the left and the Greens will naturally solidify around him because of their animosity toward Sarkozy, so he needn't reach out to them either to win their votes for the first round or even once he’s competing in the second round. The left has no place else to go.

That leaves Bayrou. Where would he lead his voters in a second round between Hollande and Sarkozy? I think that’s where Hollande thinks the election will be decided (It’s also what I think). Which is why he is apparently upset at Bayrou’s rise in the polls and also why he isn’t campaigning. I think he wants to avoid rocking the boat and alienating Bayrou and his voters with personal attacks on Bayrou or with positions that are unpopular with the centrists until the second round. So it’s dangerous to attack Bayrou.

But now, perhaps Hollande sees that Bayrou is a real threat to him in the first round.

Personally, I don’t think this is a good approach for Hollande, not least because this stupid passivity is leaving Bayrou free to run to Hollande’s left without alienating the centrists. And attacks on Bayrou are very likely to backfire.

I also think Bayrou is very likely to peel off some PS voters in the first round----and I think there is an outside chance that he might get just enough PS votes to get through to the second round. (Which is the end for Hollande).

Boris said...

I find Hollande's campaign incredibly hollow. There is nothing. Simply nothing. Every single idea he might have proposed a few months ago, he backtracks on (education, tax reform, quotient familial, etc.).

In the past, we've had Presidents elected who had:

- a platform and charisma (Mitterrand 81, Sarkozy 07)

- charisma and no platform (Mitterrand 88, Chirac 95 and 02)

Barre (88) had a platform and no charisma, Jospin had neither in 02, and they were both beaten in the 1st round.

This might be the first time that we get a president without any charisma or platform. His only program seems to be that he's not Sarkozy.

No wonder that Bayrou starts gaining traction.

Louis said...

The question of housing, especially in Paris, with its maze of "bailleurs sociaux", high rents and such, is a problem that would eserve more attention than just a few quick words in front of a lobby group. I don't know what to say really. This is all so depressing.

Jimbo said...

Social housing policy in Ile de France is bedevilled by the incoherent way properties are let: at any given time up to 9% of social housing apartments/houses are empty, while numerous homes are occupied by persons well able to afford to be in the private sector market. (Admittedly rents and properties values have been soaring in the private sector to such an extent they are extremely expensive). At the same time the requirement for social housing is ever increasing - the need is for half a million new homes according to the Region IDF. But as one of the region's mayors has pointed out recently, for every two new apartments built, a third is required immediately because of the phenomenon of family break-ups.

Anonymous said...