Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ayrault May Be Out of the Running

Jean-Marc Ayrault, whom many people, including me, expected to be named Prime Minister, was sentenced in 1997 (corrected from an earlier misstatement) to six months in jail (suspended) and a 30,000 euro fine for making a sweetheart deal with a local publisher in Nantes, of which he is mayor. Since Hollande has called for "an exemplary Republic," it seems unlikely that his first move would be to appoint a convicted grafter. Sic transit gloria mundi.

So who's going to get the nod? Lots of personal friction with Aubry. I think I'll put my money on Valls. This would be the cautious move. He's from the right wing of the party, to the right of Hollande, which might reassure the markets. He's smooth. He's calm, like Hollande. And he wants the job.

13 comments:

Hadleigh Roberts said...

Just to let you know that the article you link to dates back to December 1997. I'm not sure it's still a problem.

Art Goldhammer said...

Thanks. I've corrected the post.

brent said...

Am I correct in thinking that Valls was overheard just a year or two ago--one of those live mics that wasn't supposed to be on--making disparaging remarks about the immigrants in his city? (As in 'Where are all the real French people?') Not that this would disqualify him--hélas!--in the minds of many PSers, but his promotion would signal in lots of ways that the party is looking for a 'soft' opening to the right-more tasteful that Sarkozy's, but maybe not so different. So be it--I would hope that Mélenchon's magnificent Marseilles address would then take on the status of a manifesto for the new France.

Sophie M said...

And Valls is young, which would fit in nicely with Hollande's declaration in his victory speech in Tulle that his presidency would be first of all for "la jeunesse".

Art Goldhammer said...

Brent, You're right, Valls was overheard making a comment about "too many" immigrants in his city, Evry, but it would be unfair to infer from that overheard remark that he is racist or that his appointment would represent a "soft opening" to the FN.

brent said...

Sorry, but 'too many immigrants,' while it may not be technically racist, is the core of Marine LePen's message ... The main difference is that Valls didn't know he was addressing an audience--but how good should we feel about that?

Art Goldhammer said...

I reported on that remark in this blog. Even at the time, I was not sure how to interpret it. He is the mayor, he was walking through the market, and his point seemed to be that the market attracted a lot of immigrants, it didn't attract a certain other clientele. That might have been a racist remark or it might simply have been an observation about the way people behave, self-sorting and the like. I don't like to accuse people of racism on such evidence, especially when a private discussion is reported out of context. You are of course free to draw your own conclusions, but I suggest caution.

brent said...

Dans une séquence diffusée le 8 juin sur Direct 8, Valls, dans les allées d’une brocante, soupire: «Belle image de la ville d’Evry...» Et demande à l’homme qui l'accompagne: «Tu me mets quelques Blancs, quelques white, quelques blancos.»

http://www.liberation.fr/politiques/0101574179-a-evry-manuel-valls-veut-des-blancs-des-white-des-blancos

I actually think it is hard to hear this as a neutral behavioral observation. Whether it reveals the 'real' Valls or catches him at a bad moment, who can say? The nasty laugh that accompanies the--yes, disparaging--remark doesn't give me much encouragement. Nor does his subsequent call for diversity without ghettos--the remark of someone at least uncomfortable with diversity.

Anonymous said...

My money has been on Valls for a few weeks now. He has a number of 'atouts', though being calm is not one of them. He is actually quite temperamental. As for Ayrault, I don't know how much his 1990s legal problems will matter. Nothing has been said about it here, at least not that I've seen. If he's not appointed PM Hollande may give him Affaires Européennes, as he is a German speaker.

Arun

Massilian said...

I read the same info about Ayrault on his wikipedia page. I was puzzled. It was 15 years ago... I am also surprised nobobdy from the UMP has yet raised the issue to discredit him in advance. I understand that Ayrault is an expert in german economics and speaks fluent german. Frankly I don't see Valls as prime minister, for the moment. Hollande announced someone with experience. That's more like Ayrault.

TexExile said...

Massilian, why would the UMP raise the issue now? It has no interest in preventing Hollande from nominating a vulnerable PM. If I were on the centre right, I'd hope he got the nomination and then trot this out at the start of the legislative election campaign.

I've thought for awhile it would be Valls, so the Evry comment (about which I had completely forgotten, if I ever knew of it) puts that in question for me.

But Aubry? Does Hollande really want to end his presidency before it has really begun?

Anonymous said...

Ayrault's most pressing issue was the contentious Notre Dame des Landes airport, a costly pet project of his that had people evicted from their homes, naturalists and ecologists up in arms (as the airport would be built on protected land), and even some people on hunger strike.
Hollande announced some kind of stop to the project, thus signaling that Ayrault really is in the running.
As for Valls' comment, I took it to mean that the ghetto needs to diversify, i.e., that his city should be multicultural, not fled by "Gauls". Kind of like Detroit's rebranding, it requires showing that the city isn't monocolor.
Valls, being an immigrant himself (wasn't French and thus unable to vote in 1981) is very sensitive to immigration issues.

FrédéricLN said...

Re Valls, my former Deputy Mayor in Argenteuil (maire adjoint, but I didn't know him in person), I'm not that sure he is a calm person. I would have said impulsive instead.

His remark Direct8 captured was about the image his town Evry gives — indeed, some townships (Evry-Pyramides…) are "ghettos" in the French meaning, with a very low percentage of white people, which gives the image of poorness instead of attractiveness: remember (Art knows, thats's for readers) that we have no "ethnic townships" in France or a very low number of them: people choose the location of their flat/house on economic bases. "No white people there" implies "poor and unattractive".

I don't know anything of Valls' opinions regarding race or immigration topics; but if he had been allergic to diversity, he would surely have picked other "drop zones" to build his political career, for example in the region Nord Pas de Calais, rather than Argenteuil then Evry.