Saturday, March 10, 2012

The History of the Hallal Controversy

Romain Pigenel retraces the history of the hallal controversy. What emerges from his account is a picture of a candidate who is improvising his strategy from one moment to the next. Sarkozy first raised the hallal issue in connection with the proposal to grant immigrants the right to vote in local elections. Marine Le Pen raised the ante by alleging that all meat slaughtered in Ile-de-France was hallal. That was on Feb. 18. Three days later, Sarkozy tried to cut the controversy short. But polling evidently showed that this was an issue with legs, so Sarkozy shifted his stance, proposing a "right to know" how one's meat had been slaughtered. Then Fillon got into the act. But others in the UMP, from NKM to Raffarin, seemed to distance themselves from the new issue. As Pigenel comments,
Que les ténors de l’UMP, enfin, ont intégré qu’ils allaient perdre et qu’ils jouent déjà le coup d’après, en cherchant à prendre leur distance avec le radeau de la Méduse sarkoziste, et à se démarquer les uns des autres. Du coup, leur prophétie risque bien d’être auto-réalisatrice, tant ils brouillent et rendent inaudible la parole présidentielle.
Indeed, I spoke with a UMP politician this week, who, though he continues to campaign actively for the president, thinks that he will lose. When pessimism takes hold within a party, members start making their own calculations, and what was uniform support becomes à la carte support: we'll back you on issues we think will do us good in the long run, but we won't follow your tactical zigzags on issues with which we don't want to be associated in the future. Hallal meat seems to be one of these. The disciplined UMP of 2007 has thus degenerated into a party in which every man and woman is out for him or herself.

4 comments:

Mitch Guthman said...

I completely agree. None of this seems to be part of a coherent plan and it doesn’t seem to actually be that the Sarkozy campaign is having difficulty improvising a response to events. There was nothing in Le Pen’s silliness that demanded a response from the UMP. I think the issue was just what we call in American politics “a dog whistle” having appeal really only to the people who were already strongly in the FN camp. I don’t think it was a threat to draw of the rightmost elements of the UMP voters. Also, I don’t understand what opportunity they saw in the controversy in terms of appealing to FN voters. It just made Sarkozy and Fillon look as silly as Le Pen.

Anonymous said...

This is the way Sarkozy operates, on impulse and after consulting with one or two people - in the hallal case, with Patrick Buisson and maybe Guillaume Peltier - or of acting impulsively on what has been whispered in his ear. The procédé is all too well known at this point. Sarko is toast. The fat lady is walking on to the stage...

Arun

Anonymous said...

Since I live in a rural area, I can say that, INDEED, the manner in which meat is slaughtered was a major concern. The halal controversy made sense to a lot of people who didn't want to "eat religious meat" (Mélenchon got it right when he said you can't catch islam by eating). However this is a primary concern only in the sense that anything food-related is a primary concern for French people. Here, many people I know buy their meat from the farmer, a trusted butcher, or kill their own. So it was an important concern. But at the same time it was never considered a "presidential" question. People spoke of disappearing factories, of unemployment, and of the scarcity of affordable housing. Meat quality is important, like milk that comes from afar and AOC butter and real tomatoes v. big red things that don't have a taste; I'm not sure how Sarkozy got confused between the two meanings of "important".

Anonymous said...

And, this afternoon, NOT ANY WORD about Education, Salaries, "logement" (habitation) health...
Please excuse my bas english language but I want to say : Mr Sarkozy is "out of order" now !