An American observer comments on French politics.
Just barely good enough, to be honest, because I'm astonished by the relative closeness of the final result. I mean, Sarko alienated everyone, including many in his own camp; he obviously faced a worldwide economic crisis; and turned to the most blatantly divisive and stigmatizing tactics during l'Entre-Deux-Tours. And that's not all! His staff were out looking for jobs; he basically received no endorsement after April 22; his own supporters didn't believe he would pull it off; and he still came in at 48%? Who knows what a decidedly right-wing campaign will reap in five years if Hollande can't oversee a dramatic economic improvement?
Ouf, it was a perfectly fine speech, très républicain, and who will remember it tomorrow anyway? Soyons dans la vie réelle.Arun
He finished, they had some accordion music, and then he wandered back to the microphone. They've elected Neil Kinnock. And not in a good way.
Robert, you're right. Our victory should be larger. I know Hollande a bit. He is a good man. I just hope that we can enlarge this victory in the coming weeks as we need to confirm parliament. Our project for Europe is at stake.
I don't think you'll have that long, Bernard.The markets will draw two conclusions from the weekend's elections. Firstly, Greek political chaos puts euro breakup firmly back on the agenda. Secondly, Franco-German eurozone policy cannot continue as before but its terms have yet to be reset. Put those two together, and an acute European crisis begins next week.I mentioned Neil Kinnock for a reason. If he had won as expected in 1992, he would have been swept away within months by the collapse of the ERM. If you think Hollande can respond coherently to the coming crisis, on the necessary European scale, you have more faith in him than I do.
Hollande's margin of victory is very narrow, with final results almost complete, 51.6%. Not the landslide the left expected, or needed. In the end, France remains a center right country. Hollande's speech was uninspiring, full of banal platitudes and not à la hauteur for a Président de la Republique. Sarkozy's speech was well thought through, conciliatory, gracious, and a speech which will be remembered. The financial markets will react Monday a.m. to the disarray and the rejection of hoped for fiscal discipline in France. If Hollande wants to make headway with the 49% of the French who voted against him, he has to drop the BoBo image, and start living, talking and acting like a grownup, not some soixante-huitard who hit the jackpot. As a good start, I would suggest his son, Thomas, get a haircut, clean clothes, and start learning to use a four-letter word: S-O-A-P. He might also work on his French, if he is going to speak in public.
Sarkozy's speech was indeed excellent. If we are now at liberty to comment on the candidates' families and thus on their former households, let me agree that the young Hollande was embarrassing. He grew up in a political household, and he doesn't know what to wear to a victory party where he'll be on television? I also commend the great dignity of Segolene Royal on France2. What a bitter occasion Hollande's victory must have been for her, but you would never have known it to watch her.
Ok, so, let's see... His son is a hippie. It will be very hard for him to live up to expectations. He won by a narrow margin in a country that wil turn against him. He lives in an alternate BoBo reality. The markets will tear him to shreds. And anyway Sarkozy did a better speech. Well thank you. Any more of that? His haircut, maybe?
@MCG I agree that Segolène Royal has conducted herself with dignity during the campaign and the panels afterward. Considering the lack if support that she got as candidate herself from Hollande, all the more credit to her. As for the son, Thomas. I would hesitate to comment on someone's family, but Thomas ran his mother's campaign, and has been spokesman for his father. Even more than his shabby, disheveled appearance, which as you said is inexcusable fir someone involved in politics, I was horrified by his sloppy, almost inarticulate speech, and sloppy French. These people had better get ready for prime time because the eyes of the world will be on them 24/7.
@LC re: his haircut HE NEEDS ONE BADLY! WASHING HIS HAIR MIGHT NOT BE A BAD IDEA EITHER. Thomas Hollande is a key actor in his father's political world. He, for better or worse, will now be in the public spotlight, because that is the role he has chosen. They will now represent France, and the image of France at home and abroad.
@MCG,Sarkozy gave an excellent and very moving speech. He spoke tonight with the same dignity and seriousness of purpose that was a credit to the presidency and to France herself. This was easily the best speech I have ever heard Sarkozy give. It was necessary for me to listen to it many times to understand it and I can honestly say that I found it to be as impressive and moving the tenth time as I did when I first listened to it.I do not wish to diminish Sarkozy’s mature, dignified and surprisingly thoughtful concession speech. Indeed, I think that Arun is right in saying that if Sarkozy had spoken and acted throughout his presidency as he did tonight he would probably have been reelected. Nevertheless, whether he is corse and temperamental by nature or he conducted himself as he did for the reasons which Arthur has previously ascribed to him, I say very respectfully that these are not the words for which Nicolas Sarkozy will be best remembered. Which, in turn, explains much about why he lost this election.
@Cincinna,What, you were never young? Besides, any young man who can say that (ensuite) " on va prendre le métro et fêter ça ensemble avec les militants sur la place de la Bastille" on the night his father is elected President of France is okay by me.
Art, you and Arun are both too generous to FH at Tulle. The speech was surprisingly flat, even for Hollande, but, as Arun says, no one will remember it anyway. That said, I thought FH much better at the Bastille than in Tulle (though I only saw part of the Bastille speech). Tired and emotional (and I mean those terms in the plain literal sense -- he was not drunk on anything more than victory), FH was more passionate, more human -- and, as a result, more *normal*. (And I reckon a "normal president" would indeed be emotional on such an occasion.) I thought a lot of what he said was guff, but it was guff that was appropriate to the occasion and it was far more life-like than the Tulle speech. BTW, I assume the PS paid for the plane from Tulle to Le Bourget. Lucky FH doesn't take office immediately on his election, or he'd have had to come to Paris from Tulle by train...
La France a vote' le Prodi italien. Bonne chance (vous en aurait besoin) car votre beau pays va descendre tout droit en enfer.
@cincinna: maybe we should stop there, but I cannot resist. About being France's representatives abroad, I guess the likes of Rachida Dati, Brice Hortefeux or Douste-Blazy have done, indeed, a much better job than Thomas Hollande. As to Jean Sarkozy, maybe we should not go there. But he has nice hair, and he uses soap. Presumably. A nice clean lad.But, he, venting a bit of bad temper is fair game, so go for it. And take a good seat - if it all goes peershaped, at least you're in the opposition now. You see: condescendence. That's how it feels. Annoying, hein?
@MitchThomas Hollande is not a kid, he is 28 years old. Of course I was young, still am fairly young. But I was never a hippie, never unkempt or looked like a slob. The young BoBos are not like their parents. Hollande and Royal both speak excellent, grammatically correct French, in a clear articulate manner. Don't they learn that in school anymore? French is not my first language, but I never spoke French (or English) as poorly as I heard last night. Sloppy, mumbled, words run together, spoken like an ill bred hipster doofus. One expects so much more from the French. @LC I can't see where Mme Dati or Mssrs Hortefeux and Douste-Blazy have any relevance. As official members and spokesmen of the UMP, they always presented themselves well, and they are all articulate, and speak a very good French. As for Jean Sarkozy, he has rarely, if ever, spoken out, and has always kept a low profile. His father never pushed pushed his children out into the public arena. He is a very articulate young man, 25 years old, married, with a young son of his own. He does have the good fortune to be tall, blond, and handsome. He gave up the long hair a while back.
Cincinna, you must be joking. Have you forgotten the EPAD affair? As for Thomas Hollande, give me a break. To quote Paul Nizan, "I was 20 years old once, and I will never let anyone tell me one that 20 is the finest time of life." I've met Thomas Hollande. He accompanied his mother to the US and came with her to Harvard. He is an intelligent young man who dresses as other young men of his age dress and speaks as people do who are not accustomed to the public limelight. Have you never been on a college campus? He's a perfectly normal representative of his age group and as such, I wager, more easily in rapport with others than Jean Sarkozy, who is a young fogey in a 3-piece suit. Lay off the kid. Your comments are totally, totally off the mark and unfair.
@ Art : agree as far as Thomas Hollande is concerned. The many (French) tweets on him criticized the excessive place some TV channel gave him during the election night — not the haircut.Regarding the speech, I found it surprisingly uninspired, even for Hollande. I guess his mind is "les difficultés commencent" or "qu'est-ce qu'on va bien pouvoir faire maintenant" - "what damned mess comes next"?But other people around me found it very good. In these times of deep crisis around us, they would have been suspicious if Hollande had made great promises — and he hasn't.BTW, the atmosphere at MoDem HQ yesterday (I know Cincinna doesn't care ;-) ) : relief and concern.
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