Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dealing With Bayrou

I think the signs are clear that Martine Aubry will not be the next Prime Minister of France. After the election, there were indications out of Hollande's camp that, as a gesture of good will toward François Bayrou, who supported Hollande in round 2, the PS should withdraw its candidate against him in the legislative elections. Pierre Moscovici, Hollande's top lieutenant, made the point publicly and explicitly. But Martine Aubry, as party boss, had the final decision, and her answer was no. That is not a decision that Aubry would have taken, I think, were she on the verge of becoming PM.

As a matter of political tactics, one can argue the wisdom of the move either way. For it is an incontrovertible fact that any gesture of complicity with MoDem, no matter how insignificant, is viewed with suspicion by the left wing of the PS as well as the extreme left, with all its phobias about social treachery. And it's also true that MoDem voters did not come over to Hollande in large numbers, despite their leader's gesture of support. On the other hand, a party that assumes the presidency with a fairly weak mandate (a margin of just over 3%) might want to rassembler as a first priority. A symbolic nod to MoDem would cost little and might reap benefits later on.

Of course it is in Hollande's power to make more significant gestures, and it remains to be seen if he will do so. What is not a good sign is that Aubry is already marking her distance from the new president. If she persists in attempting to make herself the leader of the left wing of the PS by emphasizing her differences with Hollande, she will greatly complicate the already complicated situation of the new president. This minor skirmish may be forgotten in the months to come, or it may in retrospect loom as the first premonitory sign of the rock on which Hollande's presidency may founder. The endemic division of the Left has always been its Achilles' heel. Aubry might have waited a few days before reminding everyone that victory can exacerbate as well as heal old wounds.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not necessarily. Aubry's just holding firm on established PS positions (left ones perhaps, but not *so* leftist). To the extent she hold firms that can give Hollande room to maneuver as president of the nation, to draw any contrasts he might wish to, and to be pushed long by the left when need be. Not so different from Obama and left-liberals in the US. Would it really serve the PS well if they along with Hollande immediately started showing hesitancy and weakness?

Anonymous said...

I would tend to agree with the above. There is no formal alliance with MoDem and the PS candidate has already been slated for the Pau constituency - and who has made it clear that she will not withdraw. If Aubry were to intervene to save 'le soldat Bayrou' - who did not in fact formally endorse Hollande; he simply voted for him - it would provoke a firestorm in the PS, less for supporting MoDem than the specter of the Rue de Solférino intervening from on high and at the last minute in a decision taken democratically by the PS federation in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. The provinces do not like it when Paris tries to tell them what to do (remember what happened in Montpellier with Georges Frêche). Aubry's stance on this is a no brainer. Bayrou will simply have to win his seat on his own.

Arun

Anonymous said...

Apparently Martine Aubry had no qualms in Haute Garonne, though, where local party base announced she decided to "parachute" Christophe Borgel, whereas there's already an endorsed, local, PS candidate.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous above: the 'parachutage' of Christophe Borgel apparently followed an inextricable conflict between two rival candidates in the circonscription in question - with accusations of fraud - and was taken only after a vote of the PS Bureau National.

Arun